“…no way! The clucking lion is way funnier than the clucking cat!…. uh… Danny?” Cecil looked around and for maybe the ten-thousandth time in his life, and he knew… he had done it again. “Crap,” he sighed and kicked at the dirt in the corner of the dugout. Checking the vacant baseball pitch, more out of habit than anything else, he picked up his water bottle and walked slowly to his car. Danny, and the rest of the kickball team had probably left the field hours ago. Noticing something on his t-shirt, Cecil saw that a note had been pinned a little below his collar, “When you snap outta it, come meet us for a brew at Pub and Grub. We’ll be waiting! -Danny & the rest of the gang”. Smiling, Cecil crumpled up the note and thought, “Well, at least it sounds like we won!” and headed towards the bar.
It was not the first time Cecil had found himself in this kind of situation. Far from it, I’m afraid. It first started following a car accident Cecil and his sister were in on the way home from high school. Cecil had taken a pretty had thump to the noggin but the doctors couldn’t seem to find any damage and sent him home with a clean bill of health, barring a few minor abrasions. But, the next day as he was getting ready for school, Cecil was struck almost completely catatonic just as he was spitting out his toothpaste. Imagine, if you can, Cecil’s poor mother coming upon her son in such a manner, rigid and unresponsive, toothpaste dribbling from his still open mouth; why, it almost left the women catatonic herself!
When the emergency crew arrived 10 minutes later, they found Cecil in the exact same manner, although the toothpaste had dried and now looked like someone had had some fun with chalk all over Cecil’s lower face. Attempting to load him into the ambulance without causing injury to Cecil’s rigid appendages proved quite difficult. Scratching his head in frustration, one nimble-minded medic finally suggested they give the boy a sedative to relax his muscles, at which point Cecil burst to life.
“…I think slap bracelets are definitely gonna come back, it’s only a matter of time,” completely reanimated, Cecil seemed to be in the middle of a conversation with someone before he took stock of his surroundings and realized something was amiss. About 100 probing questions later, the response team decided he was not in need of transport and left with stern instructions for Cecil’s mother to get the boy to a doctor as soon as possible. Scared out of her wits by the incident, she was on the phone within the hour and had scheduled an appointment for Cecil later that afternoon.
Later, on the car ride to the doctor’s office, Cecil stared out the window and wondered what had happened to him. “Cecil,” his mom timidly looked over at her son in concern, “what was it you were saying when you woke up? Do you remember?” Cecil looked down at his hands and tried to make his response make sense (which was difficult since it still didn’t really make a lot of sense to him), “It’s hard to explain, mom. I remember what I said but I don’t know who I thought I was talking to, or if I even thought I was talking to anyone specifically. All I know is that it wasn’t anything like a dream, it felt real, the conversation made sense… that is until I woke up, or whatever you wanna call it,” he looked out the window again.
Fast forward through dozens of doctors, over seven specialists and neurologists, hundreds of tests, biopsies, and blood lettings and no one was any closer to understanding what was the cause of Cecil’s mysterious ‘pauses in time’ or the bizarre conversations he inevitably held for the few seconds after returning to the waking world. There was no rhyme or reason to them, and they struck Cecil at random intervals, making it very difficult for the teenager to live a normal life. After several ‘pauses’ during tests, team sports or trips to the men’s room (and the subsequent harassment he received from the other kids) Cecil’s mom yanked him out of public school and Cecil was home-schooleld for the remainder of his junior and senior years of high school.
Over time, he learned to cope with his illness, or Cecil pauses as they were now known in the medical world, and he became a relatively well-adjusted adult, working from home as a graphic designer and even joining a recreational kickball league (much to his mother’s chagrin). Still, the Cecil pauses continued to dot his life, as did the seemingly random, one-sided conversations.
Arriving at the Pub and Grub, Cecil searched the dimly lit bar for his group of friends. Spotting them in a back booth, Cecil headed their way and slid into the booth, “Hey, guys. How’d we do?” Cecil’s teammates proceeded to run through the highlights of the game, each detail a little more exaggerated than the last. Danny, noticing their waitress nearby and called to her so Cecil could order a drink. After a few more calls that went unanswered, Danny turned to Cecil to make a disparaging remark about the shoddy service but Cecil had again succumbed to a Cecil pause and was as unresponsive as the waitress. Danny gave an exacerbated chuckle and pointing to Cecil and their waitress said, “I think these two are a match made in heaven!”
“…ooo, that’s a hard one… OK, if I had to pick…I guess it would have to be… bacon, yeah, definitely bacon. What about you, what’s your favorite indulgence?”
“No question, not even going to hesitate, Malt Balls. I love those things, have ever since my mom said I couldn’t have them at the movies cause my teeth would rot out. I have at least three stashes of Malt balls at home… and one in my locker here at work. Ok, now I want to try something. At the count of three we both yell out our favorite ninja turtle, sound good?”
“Yep… let’s do it.”
“OK, ONE. TWO. THREE!”
“Raphael!” Cecil yelled before realizing he was back in the booth surrounded by his kickball team.
“Whoa… that was really weird,” Danny said but he wasn’t looking at Cecil, he was looking over his shoulder.
“What? Come on, dude. If you’re not used to my pauses by now, then maybe there’s something wrong with you!” Cecil elbowed his friend good naturedly.
“No, man. That’s not what I meant. You and our waitress just yelled out Raphael at the exact same time… it was like, spooky,” Danny was still staring at the waitress who looked like she was shaking off a bad hangover. “Seriously, Cecil, it was weird… one minute she is frozen, kinda like you get, I couldn’t even get her attention and when someone bumped into her she didn’t move a muscle. Then you both scream out the same random ass word? Creepy…” Danny looked like he was recounting a ghost story.
“That is a little strange, but I’m sure it’s nothing. Just to satisfy your curiosity though, I’ll go and say ‘hi’,” Cecil slid out of the booth and walked towards the waitress.
“Um, hi… I was wondering,” Cecil’s eyes grew wide, instantly he felt a bizarre connection with the pretty blonde with slate grey eyes who turned around and met his stare. She looked as if she had seen the mysterious ghost from Danny’s story as she looked up into Cecils’ eyes.
“Your favorite indulgence is bacon,” she said matter-of-factly.
“You have a thing for Malt Balls,” Cecil replied in awe.
“You think the lion is funnier than the cat… but clearly you’re not remembering the commercial right,” she said with a growing grin. “My name is Rose Lively, by the way. And I’m still waiting for the epic slap bracelet comeback you promised…”
“Mark my words… they will make a reappearance. I’m Cecil Greene and thanks for chatting with me for so long… it’s nice to find someone who you can go years without seeing and pick up right where you left off,” Cecil smiled, “so where were we?”.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today I was thrilled to reconnect with two old friends (as in from the past not elderly) from my high school days. It had literally been years since I’ve seen either of them and we had such a loverly time (at least I believe we did) that we all seemed a bit puzzled as to why we hadn’t thought to meet up sooner. It was one of those reconnections where you don’t miss a beat from where you left off, it felt as if we had never parted and had continued to hang out over the last ten or so years (wow… now I feel old). Anywho, it was so great to see them both and catch up, talk about our big girl lives, make some of the same jokes we were making in high school (they never get old!) and just generally having a grand ol time. The idea of friends picking up where they left off from years ago led me to think about the ultimate ‘reconnection’ which in Sam’s brain equals a guy who suffers from temporary impromptu comas where he has full on conversations with another coma girl that he’s never met. My brain… sheesh, you do not want to come in here!
TWO: The name Cecil comes from the wizened chap behind the counter at my local Discount Auto Parts store where I stopped by this evening for a few pick-me ups for Tink (my car). He pronounces it with a hard ‘C’ like See-cil and it just had a musical quality that was kind on the ear. So I put it in (that’s what she said! <– that’s for you Jax & Jessica!)
Love & Squirrels.