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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jap Juice Chapter 10

Chapter 10

The Promise

    There are things in life that one remembers because he or she wants too.  Birthday Parties, a first car, weddings and such.  The mind naturally floats towards these events because they are pleasant.  Our subconcious keeps us away from things that are destructive. Bad memories for example.  Or should I say horrible memories.  Not terrible ones.  Terrible is what happens to other people.  "Did you hear what happened to so and so?  It's a terrible tragedy".   Horrible is what happens to you.  Horrible is a sick word.  Just speaking it is the begining of vomiting.  Think about it. 
   That is how I woke up.  I was in the hospital and had been in a coma for nearly three days.  My ear drums had been ruptured and I had an ugly aching on the back side of my head.  I didn't remember a thing. 
My Father was there along with my Grandad.  I asked what had  happened and why I was in the hospital.
They told me that on the previous Saturday, in the middle of the night,  Jack and I had presumably snuck from the house and that we had been assaulted on the way to wherever we were going and Jack was still missing.  They had hit me on the head with something like a baseball bat and probably thought I was dead.  That was why they left me.  They had kidnapped Jack and he was still yet to be found.
    That was how it went in a nutshell anyways.  The police showed up and asked me a million questions, of which I had no answer to any of them.  A psychiatrist visited me to make sure I was "stable" and ok to go home.  A few friends from school even showed up to say hi.  One brought me homework.  I wasn't at all thrilled to see him.  I still didn't remmeber a thing.  I was in that hospital for a week and not one thing popped into my sore skull.  The last thing I remembered was eating dinner, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. 
   That was how it went for many years.  Jack was never found, the kidnappers never surfaced and everything eventually went back to normal.  I graduated high school in 1992.  Went to a local college for two years then transferred to a university.  My Grandad paid every cent of my tuition.  Said it was a gift and to use it wisely.
   It was middle of the year 1996 when Grandad fell ill.  Seems the rhumatoid had been chased away by cancer.  It was bad.  He was doing chemotherapy and killing his body to make it better.  I was in my 4th year of college and just couldn't find the time to go and see him.  It went on that way for most of the latter half of that year.  One late November day I recieved a phone call from my father.  I could tell by his voice he had been crying.  He told me Grandad didn't have long to live and that I needed to go and see him.  He had been asking for me the past few days I guess.  So I let my professors know I would be gone a few days and packed a duffel bag with a few items and hit the road in my beat up old Jeep.  It was a two hour drive to home from college and I was lost in my own reflections about Grandad. A sleety snow had started to spit from the cold November sky. 
  The parking lot of the hospital was covered in a thin skiff of icy snow when I arrived.  I felt the rear of the Jeep slide a bit when I hit the brakes and turned into the parking lot.  I killed the engine and began the long trek across the lot.  It was cold and windy and the sky was blue gray.  Snow sky we called it.  The wind was out of the north and it bit into your face.  I could feel my cheeks turning red as the blood rushed to keep them warm.  I reached the door and brushed the snow from my jacket, shivering as I entered the glassed in entrance to the hospital.  It was four in the afternoon.  I checked with the girl at the desk and she gave me Grandads room number.  He was in the oncology ward.  Past the gift shop and take a left.  Down the hall till it tees and take a right.  She spelled it out so matter of factly and I wondered how she dealt with it every day.  Death, dying, suffering.  I wondered if that's how I would go out of this world.  Past the gift shop to the left? or to the right:?
  When I reached Grandads room he was alone.  He looked awful.  So thin.  So tired.  Skin streched over bone.  I thought he looked like those people in the Nazi concentration camps we had learned about in history class back in high school.  I wondered how he could still be alive and look the way he did.  I sat in the chair by the window and watched him sleep.  His sunken chest barely rising.  Outside the snow swirled and beat against the window.  Filling up the corners.  The snow was picking up in intensity and I could barely make out the employee parking lot on the backside of the hospital.  The chair was made of some cheap vinyl and I kept sliding forward in it. I turned from the window to look at Grandad and he was watching me.  Eyes wide open.
   "Come over here ", he whispered.  I scooted my slippery chair next to his bed and was about to ask him how he was doing when he held up his hand.  The hand said hush so I just looked at him.  We sat there for a few long minutes.  I think he was gathering his strength to speak.  When he finally spoke it came in a rush.   He seemed to know that his time was limited and he needed to speak quick.  I leaned closer as he spoke and I can  remember the oversaturation of memories and emotions that I felt.  The more he spoke the more I remembered.  And the less I wanted too.  He told me everything.  Where it came from and who had made it.  Why they hid it and how he forgot about it.  Tears flowed form his eyes when he mentioned Jack.  He told me how he had plugged the barrel temporarily and how he and Verlin had buried them in the dirt under the barn and then poured concrete over it. 
   He talked fast and I could hear the beep of his heart monitor picking up pace and I began to worry.  When he finally stopped speaking he motioned to hand me his Bible on the nightstand.  He opened it up and pulled from it a small envelope.  He handed me the envelope and said in a clear strong voice.
"You are the keeper now', 'promise me you will never let it out."
"I promise", I said. 
Then just like that he died.  I was so shocked and scared at that point I never even cried.  I pressed the nurses call button and as I waited for her I opened the envelope.  In it was the pages from the dead marines journal.  And as death took my grandad away to his final resting place I read.

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