Bless You, Dead Man (Prologue)A Story by A. J. Bartlett
The introduction to Bartholomew James's "Bless You, Dead Man", his personal account of the days before his death.
I should have suspected something was wrong when I woke up to find I had fallen asleep on the floor. As I lifted myself from the soft carpet, I looked out one of the windows. Night had fallen during the time of my slumber; it had been ten in the morning, the last time I checked, before having fallen asleep. In looking at the clock, I realized that thirteen hours had passed. An hour before midnight, and my whole day had slipped by.
Looking in the mirror in the bathroom, the indentations from the carpet solidified the fact that I had been asleep, on the floor, for an adequate amount of time. Red marks covered my entire left cheek. I rubbed at them to set my cheek right, but they only remained; I wondered if it would take as much time to set right as it had taken to set them, in the first place.
After a solid thirteen hours of sleep, I have to admit: I was incredibly groggy. I was in one of those states where you knew what was going on, but didn't recognize anything about what was going on. I found my cell phone on the coffee table, and after I clicked a side button to check my messages, the screen flickered on to show I had missed eight calls throughout the day. In checking the numbers on the log, it looked like someone from work had called.
I was supposed to have been in the store around noon, my shift ending at nine that evening. I listened to the messages. Five of them were random calls, while the other three were from work: the first two full of concern, the last more laden in irritation. Another one of the managers had to be called in, at the last minute, and "you better believe" (to quote Joe, one of the other managers, from the seventh message) I had some serious explaining to do.
And serious explaining I would do... once I figured out an plausible explanation behind what had happened.
I stayed awake throughout the night, most of my fatigue and exhaustion having been wiped away sometime during those thirteen hours, pacing around the entire apartment, trying to figure out what had happened. At three-thirty in the morning, I hadn't thought of a single good reason. It also didn't help that my cat, LeMieu, persisted in walking underfoot.
It wasn't until my twenty-fifth time tripping over LeMieu when I remembered the last thing I was doing before I had fallen asleep on the floor. I had just fed LeMieu, and he wanted to play. I used an old shoelace sometimes in playing with him, and I had been using it after feeding him, earlier that day. Sure enough, upon further inspection, the shoelace was sitting right next to where my hand had been during my thirteen-hour doze; you could tell because thirteen hours had helped make a life-sized Bartholomew James indentation.
Take that, carpet! I thought as I rubbed my cheek.
I thought a little more, and remembered all the way up to when I passed out. LeMieu had grown bored with the string, so I started to playfully wrestle with him. For a short-haired cat, he shed hair at a seemingly exponential rate. Pet him for fifteen minutes, and your hand would be completely covered in fur. As I played around with him, fur flew, and some got into my nose.
And there was that last moment before waking up thirteen hours later... the start of the sneeze that had no ending: "Ah... ahhh... ch-!"
It was the start of something that would change my life forever: by possibly ending it.
© 2008 A. J. Bartlett
Added on April 16, 2008
Last Updated on April 30, 2008
A. J. Bartlett
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