Paul took a giant first step towards the enemy. And then another. He dodged right. Then left. His foot turned to straighten his body. He vision of a doctor with an x-ray of his spine flew threw his head, and he lost feeling in his right knee. And then his leg. Over compensating, he attempted to push off of his left leg, and it crumbled underneath him. His body began to fall and the tile turned into a powerful magnet pulling only parts of his body. If not for the momentum that he had created, Paul Sr. would have landed within feet from the counter, instead it threw him head first into the fake paneling, and he blacked out.
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings where spinal nerves leave the spinal column. Depending on which nerves are affected, spinal stenosis can cause pain or numbness in your legs, back, neck, shoulders or arms; limb weakness and incoordination; loss of sensation in your extremities; and problems with bladder or bowel function. In severe cases of spinal stenosis, surgery is usually recommended to create additional space for the spinal cord or nerves, and if you weren’t so old Mr. McConnell, I would recommend surgery. But really surgery at this point may be too hard on your body.
Are you saying I can’t take it?
I’m not saying that. I know your will is strong enough. But, Mr. McConnell, your body can’t take it.
You have no idea what my body can take.
Maybe, I don’t, but I’m not wasting valuable time and resources where they’re not needed.
You mean you don't want to put a bowtie on a turd.
You mean you don't want to put a bowtie on a turd.
“Dad, are you all right?”
“Carolyn, are you stupid? He’s not ok. He just ran into the counter.”
From behind the counter, “Is that old dude, ok?”
“He’s ok. He just gets confused sometimes.”
“Dude, Lady, he scared the crap out of me,” taking a sip of his drink, “And that’s not cool.”
“I’m sorry. He’s old.”
“He better not be bleeding. I’m not cleaning up old dude blood.”
“He’s not,” turning to her father, “Dad, are you ok?”
“Ohhhhh! They’re the Indian! I smell them…”
“Smell them? That old dude can’t smell us.”
Paul Jr. steps in with a Gordita in hand, “Carolyn, is he Ok?”
“HE’S GOT ALZHEIMER’S! I’M SORRY!”
Backing up, “Carolyn, calm down. It’s ok. We’ll take care of it.”
Realizing it’s her brother, “Oh Paul, I’m …I’m Sorry. He’s having an episode.”
“Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
“No, he’ll be ok. Just let me talk to him….Dad?”
“They’re everywhere. N….D….N….. N….D….N….. N….D….N….”
“Mom, why is Grandpa freaking out?”
“Marcus, honey, just give us a moment.”
“No, they’re not, Dad. The Indian is not here. We’re in a Taco Place. The Indian is not in the Taco Place.
“Why not? . N….D….N”
“He’s just not….Paul, let’s get him up,” the siblings prepare to lift their father. “Dad we’re going to pick you up and take you over to a table, OK?”
“Ahhhhh. . N….D….N….. N….D….N….”
“OK. Paul on three. One, two, three.” They hoist and then grunt as they carry their father to a table. The Asian couple stares as they back out of the restaurant.
“God, he’s heavy.”
“Just get him to the table. Just a few more steps, Dad. One. Two. ” The pair sits Paul Sr. in a booth, “We’re here. Paul Jr. can you get Dad some water.”
“Yeah, I’ll get some myself.”
Concerned, “Dad, are you ok?”
“Where am I?”
Beginning to cry, “Oh Dad. We’re in Santa Fe. We’re in Santa Fe.”
Dropping her head into her hands, “We’re on a trip, Dad.”
“I don’t like it.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
Paul Jr. arrives at the table with the water, “Here is his water. How’s he doing? Did you pull him back from wherever land yet?”
“He just needs some time.”
“I’m not sure…” Paul takes a big drink of water as he scans the street through the big plate glass window. Cars are zipping up and down the boulevard. And an old neon sign flashes a little in the shadow in front of an old motel. The place is old and has outlived its use. Most people passing by would probably take one look and think about all of the Meth users in the beat up place. Paul was no different. And as his mind moved into wondering how much the prostitutes in a place like that charged, he read the sign over the door – The N D Inn. He dropped his water.
“Paul, are you ok?”
“Look, look at that…No way..but…I’ll be a monkey’s dance partner.”
Carolyn turns, “At what?”
“That sign for the hotel, the inn across the street. Look at the initials on the sign. N.D. It’s the N.D. Inn.”
“OK, So what.”
“Remember, Dad mentioned a vase shaped pool. The Indian may be the N.D. Inn. Or maybe the Indian works at the N.D. Inn or something. I don’t know, but I think one of us needs to go over there and check it out.”
“Ok, go on.”
“Well, I thought maybe you’d be a better choice, since you have…”
Cutting him off, “Paul, I have to stay here with Dad.”
“Maybe, I’ll just eat some more of my Gordita, and we can all go in a minute.” Paul Jr. feebly tries to return to his seat, when a half motherly, half sisterly voice snaps him back into step.
“Fine, I’ll go, but I’m taking my Gordita with me.” Paul picks up his chow. “I’ll call your cell phone if I find something.”Walking out the door and mumbling into the air, “I should have kept my big mouth shut.”
Paul McConnell is the American.
"The American" is a free web comic and pulp story brought to you by the good people at Pro Se Press.
Written and Illustrated by Fuller Bumpers