Breaking Script

Word to the wise guy: don’t break script. Nothing good ever comes of it. You break script (your routine, your approach—your script), you’re breaking world order. Demons pour in through the cracks. I’m telling you. Don’t do it.

Simple example. You have that place that you keep your wallet at night, your keys, your smokes, whatever. Every night, there. One night, over there. Next day? You spend an hour searching, pissed.

Don’t do it.

I did it once, it hurt me bad. Punishment didn’t fit the crime. That’s why they’re called demons.

Grad school, 1990. I go out dancing one night with a classmate. That ain’t much, right? But that wasn’t my relationship with Carol. She and I mostly tolerated each other because of Claudia, a mutual friend. Can’t remember why but that night we broke script and went dancing. Demons poured in through the cracks.

Carol knew a dance spot. It was out there, in the ‘burbs south of Denver. Never been there myself (another broken script). We got there, what met us was a line out front longer than our patience. You can guess what we did. Broke script and went searching elsewhere.

Just so happens I’d noticed another place, not far, on our way in. On its tired marquee it said this, this and that, with Dancing! in the middle of it. We went there. No line there.

It wasn’t much of a scene. The bouncer, way pregnant, had a look like it was go time. Inside, a spent room adorned with neon Schlitz, dimly lit booths, a lighted circle of a dance floor toward the back. Lots of denim, ditto smoke. A strange mix of blacks and whites bent, it appeared, on not mixing. The place was on edge but the music was serviceable. We stayed.

We danced a while, ignoring things. Eventually the edginess pushed the fun toward the exit. Discussed leaving, agreed to do so in a song or two. About then the inevitable fight broke out in another part of the bar. Crowd rushed to watch. Not us. Can’t stand fights, was glad the assholes were far away. Fighters’ friends worked to separate them. That settled things for us. Last dance then out.

Last dance indeed. Out of nowhere a punch.   Right to the eye—a flash of white. I stumble, shocked, think, dirtball fucking joint! Carol comes forward to help me, then another dude. I can’t see, only sense chaos. They begin guiding me off of the dance floor, barking for passage. I try opening my eye, see only milky white nothingness. I faint.

Next thing I’m pissed that people are touching me. What the fuck?! Realize I’m flat on my back, coming to. People trying to help me up. I find the vision in my eye is still white nothing. “Your eye is damaged,” my brain tells me, simply, flatly. That wakes me up. “I need a doctor,” I tell the mob. Carol hears but is worthless, nearly hysterical. Mercy: dude that helped me off the floor is a nurse, knows where the nearest hospital is.  Jumps in Carol’s car and drives us there.

En route the nurse tells me my story. Hadn’t been punched at all. The two fighters had squared off again. One picked up a glass, threw it at the other. Missed wide, sailed, shattered against a table, me in the debris field. One life, the shard bounces off my chest. This life, direct to my left eye. “Corneal puncture” my reward.

Surgery two hours later to close the eye, then again a few weeks after to remove the cataract, insert an artificial cornea. Have had an old dog’s sight in that eye since. The image above is roughly what the scene before me looks like through that eye. A generous version at that.

Something to think about before you brag on beating me in tennis.

Something else to think about. Don’t break script.

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