Saturday, May 23, 2020

Surprise on the way to the drugstore

Read Time: 4 minutes

Right now, it’s especially important to care for the whole you — mind, body, and spirit. Whether you’re looking for help with sleep, stress, or relationships. The following short story illustrates some of the many ways the pandemic effects health and wellness beyond the virus itself.


Startled, he turned his head when I entered the room. The shadows on his face almost, but not quite hiding the fear….

“You’re not wearing a mask!”

“Sorry.” I fumbled for the mask in my pocket. Found it. Wished it was a clean one as I…

“Get out of here!”

He had a bat in his hands now.

“A bat? Yes a bat.” I think as I back towards the door still trying to hook the mask over my right ear. Thinking having a mask on would calm him. Thinking he’ll have to get within six feet to hit me. Still backing. Not wanting him out of my sight.

“Shit, shit, shit.” I think as I continue to fumble with getting the mask loop over my right ear.

Bat now in both hands. I can see it’s an old Sears bat autographed by Ted Williams. Memories of Little League flood me. “Teddy’s using a Sears bat. Teddy’s using a Sears bat. Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear!” They taunt me when I step to the plate. The first pitch is a fast ball and it hits me hard in the shoulder.

“Teddy Bear’s a walker” the chant picks up. Then settles down as I reach first. Our assistant coach tells me I should have seen that wild ball coming and have stepped out of the way. Tears flowing now. I get ready to make a good show of sprinting to second.

His bat pokes me hard in the diagram. And I’m back to the now leaving my feelings about Sears, Ted Williams and the Sunny Jim Little League team behind.

I feel the doorknob on my back as the wind goes out of me in a whoosh. Doubled over now. Can’t speak. Thinking “what about the six feet rule dude?”

And, “why is he so angry? Is it only the mask?”

I can see him drawing back the bat in preparation for a hit thinking “Shit he’s a lefty” as I try to straighten up and turn the doorknob in one move.

“Goodbye you sick bastard” he says as he swings.

The door opens and I fall back as the bat comes around. I feel the air as it passes my face. Close. I’m down, not thinking about my lack of air, baseball or anything but survival as I roll right to hands and knees. Fear rolling into anger now.

Mad now. Mad about this asshole. Mad about the team I was cut from. Mad about the state of the world.

On my feet. Still in a crouch. Asshole through the door bat in position for another swing. Close. He’s close enough. I hit him hard with a right to his gut. Bat to the floor. He doubles in two. I bring up my knee hard. His nose explodes with a spray of blood.

A moment of victory. A moment of glory. I survived. I beat him. Just like I beat Richie in the seventh grade. Richie went down hard too. But not before blooding my nose. I think Richie was my last school fight. The memories come back. Back with detail. I’m not a fighter. Never really was. Always wanted to be like the tough guys in school. In the movies. Never measured up.

I taste the blood in the air. He’s down. “No more from him,” I think, savoring my success.

Blood in the air. COVID! It’s an aerosol. I could have just sealed my fate.

I jerk awake with bus driver yelling at me, “Hey buddy!” And louder, “Hey buddy! This is where you wanted to get off.”

“Sorry, thanks,” as I stand and make my way to the rear exit checking my clothes for blood. Realizing it was a dream. Realizing that I’m dripping with sweat. Down the steps and out I go. Better find a bench and cool off a moment or they won’t let me in the store.

“Whew, that was intense.”

I realize that I’m feeling the effects of COVID beyond the virus itself. The uncertainty, the altered daily routines, financial pressures and social isolation. I worry about getting sick, the extent of pandemic and the future. Information overload is the least of it. The rumors and misinformation are out of my control. I’m often unclear about what to do.
I’m experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness all at once. Anxious one moment and depressed the next. And the dreams. The dreams are deep, vivid and disturbing.

I stand, cooled off now. Feeling better. Actually feeling fine now that I thought through it. And head into the store to pick up my prescription and do a little shopping. Thinking, as I fumbled with my mask, “maybe the pharmacist will have suggestions for something to help me sleep better.”

This was conceived as one of my Strategic Tales, written to illustrate possible futures.

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