Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whitlash - Chapter 6

Heroine point of view

Beams trickle in through the window and dance upon the floor. Oh sun, I haven't seen you in ages! You look like a long-lost stranger---deceptively warm on the worn wood boards. If I could purr like a meatloafing cat in a warm spot, I would. Storm must be subsiding... THE RADIO! 

I shoot out of the quilt nest like a Usain Bolt, sliding across the floor in slippery socks like Apolo Ohno, and vaulting myself into the desk chair like Nastia Liukin. Okay, okay you caught me. I'm not nearly that talented. Anyway, I grab the radio and throw open the front door. An icy blast whips me in the face. That's not a very nice greeting, day! 

When the two-ways were first purchased, we'd sprung for the Midland GXT1000VP4 or some other random string of numbers and letters behind it. The thing brags that it can get up to 36 miles, and it takes AAs or rechargeable batteries. 36 miles – I call B.S. 

The cabin's perched atop a decent sized hill with a pretty excellent line of sight to surrounding areas, and the best it ACTUALLY gets is about 10 miles. Luckily, base is around 7. Okay, confession again – base is mostly just Murphy, my hapless but well intentioned superior, and occasionally Greta who helps do paperwork once-a-week. We're a government off-shoot---budget cuts abound! Surprisingly few Americans care about the wildlife of the northwest. Now, I'd be extra lucky if Murphy is awake, out of bed, and in the office. That would be the miracle. 

I hop from foot to foot as I push the button to talk. Too cold. Too cold too cold tooo cooooold. If Murphy answers, I'm going to yodel my “too cold” song to him before stating the emergency. C'MOOON. Answer dang it! I glance at my watch and see it's only 7:42am—oops. Okay, maybe I'll give Murph til 9:01am but not a minute longer.

I can hear Carson rousing behind me as I slam out the cold. With rasp still in his voice, he greets me.

Any luck?

“None! Nothing but badluck so far—except the sun. Skies are clear, and it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. I'm going to try again in a bit. How are you feeling? Hungry? Thirsty?”

He mulls it over for a minute. Do all guys look this good with bed hair? His locks are mussed in every direction ---annnnd it's adorable. I chide myself for even noticing. This guy needs lots of things, and me mooning over him is NOT one of them. I've been cooped up in this cabin too long. Maybe Sunburst trips need to happen more often.

Sigh—I miss my friends back home--mostly Katrina Eloisa Lorenzo. Her name is as magnificent as she is. We've been bffs since 8th grade when she found me crying in the bathroom over ripping my pants in a very inopportune location while trying to can-can kick. That champ tied her sweater around my waist, and we were inseparable after that. I was with her when she pierced her own eyebrow with a safety pin, and she was with me shoveling cookie dough ice cream into my face when I got stood up on a date for the first time. I was with her when she failed her first calculus test (we burned it in the parking lot), and she was with me when I found out that slimeball neighbor of mine backed over my kitten with his Hummer. Kat was the one who dyed my hair with blue Kool-aid---which was great, until my mom came home from work and grounded me for LIFE. Seriously, I'm probably still grounded if you ask her.

Hmm, maybe just thirsty...His voice snaps me out of my reminiscing.

What'll it be? Water, water, gatorade, kool-aid, water, or hot tea?”


“Just kidding—I don't have kool-aid. What do think this is? A Jim Jones Cabin Cult?” 

I dunno...that radio seems pretty conveniently “broken.” His concluding smirk acts as dimple-inducing punctuation.

In retaliation, I mock a sobered face and hold up two fingers in a scouting swear.
“On my honor, I will not rest until Murph picks up, and I make a pot of tea.”

Actually, tea sounds lovely. Who's Murph? 

While readying the kettle, I project a basic run down of my job and coworker(s). He seems impressed—enough--I don't know, it's hard to gauge someone's tone when they're speaking up towards the ceiling from the other room. I've just launched into the story of how a pocket gopher made an extensive network under our headquarters which we didn't find until...

High pitched whistling interrupts the tale. I hook two mugs with my right hand and balance the pot in the other. 

“Do you want the XKCD mug or the one that looks like it half blew up in the kiln?”

I'll XKCD it. Hey, the ebay one! Classic. 

“It's funny because this one time Murph found a bobcat up insid...oh never mind. Here's your tea.”

Carson raises both his eyebrows and then pushes them together in a face that silently screams 'Right...so how am I supposed to drink this lying down?'

I set our cups down on the tree stump which doubles as my redneck end table and grab a pillow in a dingy pillowcase --- daisy print fading in the middle. Carson instinctively rolls his broad shoulders forward and lifts his head for me to scoot the pillow behind. As he moves, I hear air hiss in through his teeth.

“You okay? ...sorry...that's a silly question.”
He doesn't answer, but his expression reads enough. I know he's very not okay. What else is there to do than to try to proceed as normally as abnormally possible?

Next, I press the comic mug into his open hands. His hands look strong with short nails and nicks and scrapes along the backs. Wager he's not afraid of a little manual labor now and again. They close around the mug and bring the piping hot beverage in towards his chest. His motions are slow and calculating to compensate for his awkward angle.

“It's a bit too hot still. Needs a minute---the roof of your mouth thanks me.” 

Next, I turn to my own ugly mug. NO! Not my face---how could you even think such a thing, meanie! MY MUG – the one Kat made in Intro to Pottery. She failed that assignment, but I love it---it's quirky...and hideous. 

While waiting, I let the steamy streams of Constant Comment's orangey scent curl up toward my nostrils. Appreciatively, I inhale a deep lungful and close my eyes for a mini moment of tea induced tranquility. Clear my mind. Pay no attention to the very attractive fellow in the middle of my floor. Concentrate on releasing tension. I am light as a feather....

My eyelids flutter open just in time to see Carson impatiently bring the hot mug to his lips—a decision he regrets nanoseconds later as the sputters the blistering tea. As he pulls the mug away, which is a surprisingly unnatural gesture if you're lying down, the scalding liquid sloshes onto his chest. From my position of horror mere feet away, the whole thing plays out in slow motion. I almost expect my next words to come out 3 octaves lower, like a sudden vocal transformation into James Earl Jones.



“Shit! Quick, lift your arms!”

Our first aid training involved a lot of post-class gruesome story swapping. One freckled lady told of how her niece pulled a pot of spaghetti water onto herself. If her sister had known to get the jumper off (which removes the immediate heat source), the little girl might've been spared some pretty gnarly 2nd degree burns.

“We've got to get you out of those shirts now!”

He obediently raises his arms, and I grab at the wet fleece to pull it over his head. The under-armor layer below proves more difficult. I get it stuck around his head, and he helps me wrestle it free. I toss the wet clothes to the side and dash into the kitchen for a dish towel. Carson shudders as I apply the cold, wet towel to his chest – but it's better than getting blisters.

After a minute, he looks up and chuckles darkly.
I'm a mess. 

“I don't disagree. Do you consider yourself Revolutionary?”

Maybe---why do you ask? 

“Because you just tried to mashup The Boston Tea Party with Tarring and Feathering!” 

I rock back on my heels and take a good look at the sheepish gentleman in front of me. His bare chest is....delicious. It's perfect. Absolutely perfect to me---apart from the red mark slowly starting to appear in the center. Is...was..is my jaw hanging a little? Oops, girl, better button that mouth up. Carson looks mightily embarrassed again. Hard to gauge if it's my gawking or the little spill which has him flummoxed. Either way, his forbidden lower lip is starting to tremble a mite from the cold. 

“I...I'll bring some wardrobe choices. Any special requests?”

Nothing with ruffles.

“What about sequins?"

Only if it makes me look better than a disco ball.

“I'll see what I can find.” 

Phew—good save. Managed to swallow my, 'You already shine brighter than any disco ball,' comment before it slipped out. Close call. 

The unfinished pine dresser is a treasure trove of unsuitable things to put on Carson. Tank top? Paisley print blouse? Capped sleeve scoop neck with extra adjectives added as needed? Yeaaaah, these aren't going to work. 

After shuffling through cardigans and that one ugly christmas sweater staple, I pull my oversized alma mater hoodie and a free redcross t-shirt from years gone by. The halloween themed shirt wails, “Giving blood is Fang-tastic!” These will have to do. 

“Sorry, kiddo. I must've lost my sequin ruffled unitard in the move. You'll have to settle for the ragamuffin look.”

Ragamuffin suits me fine. Nice shirt!

“Hah, yeah—got it at a drive a million years ago. You donate?”
Never. I sell my blood for a cup of juice and a cookie.

“Har...har. Try as you might, all your jokes are in vein. Shirt on, before you catch pneumonia.”

Once he's snuggled into my not-so-baggy-now-that-it's-on-him hoodie, I check the time. 8:20. We've got 40 minutes to kill before I should try the radio again. 

“Let's play a game.”

What sort of game?

“Hmm, how about two truths and a lie.”

I'm game for your game. You go first. 

“Okaaaay. Let's see....got it! I've won not one but 3 hula hooping contests, my nickname in middle school was Tweetie, and I know every word to Jurassic 5's “Concrete Schoolyard.” 

It's gotta be the last one. I can't even imagine you rapping. 

Excuse me! I'll have you know I take it back like Robin Loxley, rockin from country side to spots where hard rocks be, I often wonder if these MC's even know how it feels to dedicate their whole life to this mic of steel. It's not about the bills, that's not keepin' it real, a lot of tight rappers out here ain't got no deals. We appeal to the brothers with flow finesse, cause it's the 100 watt - blood shot - game of death.

Hahaha, bravo! Point to the lady in the rhymes. 

“Early 90s rap was my jam! Jurassic 5, Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest...the good stuff. That was before the dark years of writing angsty poetry while listening to Elliott Smith.”

HEY! Elliott Smith was a genius. 

“No dispute! I could listen to Waltz #2 on repeat, but only when I want to wake up with an emotional hangover. Now adays, I'm more likely to toss on Belle & Sebastian for nostalgia.”

Alright, my dear catastrophe waitress, which was the lie? 

"Tweetie---no one ever called me Tweetie."

Perfect reason to start. Guess it's my turn, Tweetie--- give me a sec to think. 

I shoot him a mock glare as he formulates his truths and lie. Throat clearing dramatically, he rattles off his lines. 

I had a bit part in the 1993 Disney film Homeward Bound, my first pet was a barnacle named Bill, and I'm deathly allergic to kiwis.
“Oh goodness, you did not have a pet Barnacle!” 

Sorry, you lose. I did indeed have such a pet. Picked him up off the beach when I was 3---my parents failed to tell me that Bill was already dead, so I'd put him in a plugged bathroom sink every night. Even gave him a theme song.

"That is too cute!! Who were you in Homeward Bound? The movie made me laugh, cry, and instilled the greatest paranoia about leaving my cat for family vacations. Seriously, where were RFIDs in the 90s? "

As Carson launches into how he grew up in Oregon where the film was shot, I think about how oddly normal this feels. Sure we're snowed in. Sure he's been horribly injured and is unmoving on my cabin floor. Sure this is all probably life-altering and will be months of daily tribulations, but right now---right as we play two truths and a lie to keep his mind off the pain, everything feels weirdly normal. We're just two normal people having weirdly normal conversation. (Okay---as normal as I get, anyway. Shut up.) 

In case you hadn't guessed, he's not allergic to Kiwis – not the green fruit, flightless bird, or the friendly New Zealanders. When the banter breaks for a second, I glance at the time and realize it's already 9:10. MURPH!

Carson looks baffled as I skitter across the floor like a deer on a freshly waxed floor. Seriously, have you seen that clip
I'm out the front door in a flash, and I breathe a prayer while radioing-in. 

“Girl Scout to base. Girl Scout to base.” PRAYER answered--- static gives way a to a familiar voice.
Reading you Five. Come in, Girl Scout.“Murph, trapped on round top. Medical emergency, over.” State your emergency.“I've got an individual up here with major trauma. Possible spinal injury. Requesting immediate med-evac.”
Copy. Is subject stabilized? Over. 
"Affirmative. He's responsive and stable."
Sending team now. Standby for further transmissions.
Hang in there kid. Over and out.
My heartbeat is pounding in my ears as I puff in and out crisp air. My breath hangs white and fluffy like an ephemeral cloud before dissipating in the breeze. I've barely contained myself when I bust back through the front door. He looks up expectantly—big eyed with a question written clear across his face.

“They're coming! I got through---Murphy is sending help!”

Relief washes over Carson's forehead, precipitating a closing of eyes and tipping back of his head. The emotion surges through the pine planked room. I scarce dare breathe. A crackled voice breaking from his lips says, “Amen.” 

I feebly try to bring back the joking lightness we held just minutes before with a shaky rejoinder.
“That happy to be rid of me, eh?” 

His face tips back forward with a newly planted 1000 watt grin across his face.
I said nothing of the sort. But this hose and funnel have GOT to go.

We both laugh with embarrassment. As the laugh wains, our gazes wander to opposite sides of the house. I can't look at him. Is he thinking what I'm thinking? Does he realize that I barely know him, but I'll already miss him? What is with me!? Have I sprouted feathers and soared full-scale Florence Nightingale? Dammit! 

I let my eyes drop back to center. They find Carson's locked on me---a pensive look dangling from the corners of his cheeks. 

Oh, nothing.
“C'mon, tell me! You're looking at me like I'm a martian dressed up like lady gaga!” 
Come visit me, Tweetie. 
His voice is soft and gentle. Almost wistful. My tone drops to match his.
“Of course I will....” The soft raises back to playful.
“..but only if you stop calling me that!” 
I air punch him on the shoulder –without letting the mock-blow actually land.

Easy, killer---or I'll tell the emergency responders a good tale about how I ended up like this, and it wont involve snow sharks.

The next two hours have the viscosity of molasses. Every time I hear the wind pick up outside, I lunge for the window and search the skies. Once, a crow landed on the roof, and we both nearly jumped out of our skins. It's too cold to be a skeleton. My nerves are frayed, so I trudge a lap around the cabin in my knee high snow boots just to release some pent up energy. What if they don't see us? What if Murphy couldn't get through? What if they're not coming? 

In a somewhat futile attempt to be helpful, I decide to pull a Captain Flint and tromp down a giant X marks the spot in the snow. Can't claim to be a treasure, but I've got cabin fever worse than the Treasure Island Muppets. Might as well do something.

Defeated, I head back inside to check on Carson. The startled look when I burst through the door lets me know he's just as on-edge as I. 

“Just me. Sorry to disappoint.”

Not disappointed—just, just jumpy. Remember in grade school when your teacher would announce that she had a test to hand back? In between the announcement and the arrival at your desk, I swear a rift opens up in the space/time continuum. Everything slows down and the suspense is crushing. This feels like that. Waiting to get the spelling test back.

“Pff, spelling was easy. Multiplication tables however...”

No way! I know my 13 times tables in my sleep.

“Show off...”

We both hear it at the same time. The mechanical humming and whipping of sky like a giant, airborne kitchenaid mixer growing louder by the second.

“Carson...” I whisper his name to acknowledge it...even though I know he hears it too. 

Our hands—like rare-earth neodymium magnets---snap to eachother, locked in a simultaneous squeeze. This is it. This is where I turn him over to the professionals and hopelessly look for his story in the papers. This is it. I'll pass him off to those paid and trained and never see him again. This will mean goodbye. 

This is it.
...if I let it be.


  1. No no no no

    You just cant stop here..you can't :'(

  2. That chapter was long, but not long enough. Is it (next) Monday yet?

  3. okay, anniemouse, i am not fucking with you, i cant get enough of your story and waiting for next weeks chapter feels like hell to me! its probably my favourite story on this blog atm (even though its not a quad story, kudos!) and i check back every single day to see if you may have updated earlier!!!!!!
    please do not let this end anytime soon! describe all of the rehab and write 100 happily ever after chapter, but please never let this story end, i am not kidding!!!
    the idea of coming home to an update of your story is what gets me through mondays recently <3

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I really appreciate your enthusiasm! This is just going to be a pausing spot for Whitlash. I want to be able to reliably post every week (and that means catching up on a bit of writing). For now, I'll let Carson and Tweetie hang out in eachothers company. Let's call it End of Act I.

    3. I really appreciate your enthusiasm! This is just going to be a pausing spot for Whitlash. I want to be able to reliably post every week (and that means catching up on a bit of writing). For now, I'll let Carson and Tweetie hang out in eachothers company. Let's call it End of Act I.

  4. ooh. Please don't let that be the end. I'm really enjoying this story and already looking forward to the next instalment.

  5. And u know what? I am sorry but you need to make them looooooooooonger. Please please please please.
    Pretty please??

  6. Anniemouse, thank you so much for being so loyal and always updating on Monday, please continue doing so. It makes me so happy and I am so much enjoying your story, and this time, I was even able to understand everything;-) Thanks for your kind offer last time, by the way...

  7. This is the bomb :} thanks for a great chapter!

  8. I'm SOOO enjoying this story. Can't wait for more to come . . .!

  9. Dear Anniemouse, do you already know when Act 2 will start? I hope you will be able to update soon, I would so much like to read more about Carson! Thank you!!!!

  10. Hey, Anniemouse,

    Just a little note to let you know that I miss this story. :)

    Hope things are going well.


  11. Anniemouse any hope of more of this story? Just reread and need more so badly.

  12. i just re-read this story again cause i liked it soo much and i cant wait for an update!!!