"Huh? Mom? What?"
"Monica. Listen to me. Wake up. Your brother is in the hospital."
"What?" As if jumping into an ice cold winter pond, I rocket from half asleep to wide awake. "What?"
"Overdose. Come now. They say it's not good." She is crying now. I can hear her voice waver, the calm tones she was able to employ initially are fissuring underneath the force of her fear.
"What? What?" I keep repeating the same word stupidly as my brain whirls to metabolize what she has just said. 'Not good.' Don't they usually say 'everything's okay now, but..' This talk of 'not good' robbed me of air. It meant.. well, it meant that shit was not good.
"The hospital across the street from your old junior high. I'm in the emergency room. They're working on him now. Oh Jesus..." Her voice trails off and she is sobbing now.
"Mom! Be cool. I'll be there! I'm leaving right now!"
A loud buzzing, not unlike what occurs when I get a little too stoned, is chainsawing through my skull. My bowels liquify as I stand and for a second, I truly wonder if I might shit myself. I grab my car keys, slide my feet into the flip-flops that live just inside my front door and step out into the warm summer night.
It's 4 am in Utah. Nobody is awake. It doesn't feel like early morning yet. No birds chirping, no ambitious joggers or dedicated dogwalkers - late night is still filling the air with its sleepy silence.
On legs of rubber, I run for my car. I slide behind the steering wheel and find that my left leg is shaking so badly I can't depress the clutch.
"Fuck!" I fumble for the lever and crank my seat so far forward the steering wheel is nearly kissing my chest. This makes it easier to push in the clutch and start the car. My entire body is convulsing. Even my teeth are chattering.
I drive fast. Faster than I ever have. Careening around corners, roaring down residential streets and, once on the freeway, opening up the Dodge Neon to speeds above 100mph. I am actually hoping a cop pulls me over. Perhaps I can get an escort.
Halfway there, I become aware of the fact that I'm repeating the same words over and over.. I am keening 'please don't die, please don't die, please don't die' and nodding my head to the mantra. 'Please don't die, please don't die'. It's a nightmare.
You slog through life, bitching and moaning about bullshit.. 'I have to work tomorrow' or 'I hate my new haircut' or 'so-and-so is an asshole' or 'I wish I had that job'... whatever. Then the anvil drops and you realize.. you fucking realize how stupid you've been.
All these thoughts race through my head as I try to remember the last time I saw Jordan, my little brother.
Please don't die please don't die please don't die...