☰ Two Things

Do two things each day that you wouldn't normally do. 

It seems like such a simple concept, but it changed my life.

The first thing I did different was have my morning coffee at a new shop. 

My regular haunt in the a.m. was “L.A.’s”, a trendy joint where millennials gathered every sunrise to take their coffees full of soy and sugar.

But, today, because of my turning over a new leaf, I went to Murphy’s; a small, family owned shop. Murphy’s was on the the intersection of sixth and Spencer Ave. I always passed by it on my way to work. Their coffee was good, but not as good as L.A.’s. It wasn’t bad, just different. 

And that was the point. 

To end the monotony of the everyday with specks of something new. I intended to do this for thirty days and see where it got me. I was excited to branch out from my norm. Come out of my shell, and this seemed like an easy way to start.

Do two things you wouldn’t normally do each day.


There’s no way just making that tiny resolution would change my life forever, right?

Well, there you would be wrong.

Once I tried the coffee at Murphy’s again, my opinion of the place changed. All the sudden, I had a new regular coffee shop. Then Lacy started working mornings..

She was beautiful. 

Amazingly gorgeous, and I liked talking to her because she was so sweet.

My two things changed everyday as I got to know her better. 

I usually had my two things done by the time I left Murphy’s every morning, coffee in hand and a smile on my face. 

One morning it was: “tell Lacy her smile is lovely.” (Something the old me would never have done, despite how true it was).

Or, “tell Lacy a joke.” She laughed at my jokes and seemed interested. I dare say we were friends and that she enjoyed seeing me everyday. Maybe she even looked forward to it, but Lacy and I were not meant to be. 

Most people will chose not to sit with their backs to the door if given the choice.

I was no exception. 

For one of my two things, I decided to take a comfortable seat at a table in Murphy’s one morning as I waited on Lacy to make my order. 

That was the thing. The thing that got me killed: sitting with my back to the door.

Never do it if you can avoid it.

I died.

A man came in, off his rocker, tripping on drugs, hallucinogens and God knows what else. He’d probably been up for days. 

The day I sat with my back to the door, the man thought it would be a good idea to rob Murphy’s at knife point.

People screamed and yelled when they saw him lunge for Lacy, only, I was the last to know. I didn’t see the knife. My back was to the robber and when I got up from my chair to grab my coffee from the counter just as Lacy set it down, he stabbed me in my kidney with a dirty knife. All because of how I’d decided to sit. Because I’d wanted to better myself by doing two things I would never normally do each day.

I bled out on the floor of the coffee shop and was legally dead for three minutes before the paramedics brought me back. 

When I woke up, nothing was the same. 

At first, I was alone in my hospital bed. I worked out that I’d been in a coma for about a month. The flowers at my bed table were at least a week old, and my beard had grown out. My back hurt from being in a weird position, my sleep pants were a size too small and were cutting off circulation to my crotch. Lastly, I was wearing a diaper.

I groaned and sat up, pulling off tags and cords attached to me as I went. I pressed the button for the nurse three times before she showed up. When she did, she told me what happened. I listened and gulped down water. She convinced me to let the doctor give me a look over, but she let me get dressed even though it was against the rules. My mother must have brought me clean clothes, because my other ones had been covered in blood.

A very nice woman, the nurse. I thanked her several times for her kindness and willingness to give me real information on my situation.

The doctor was horrid. I knew it before I saw him. 

Black, inky vines crawled the walls of my hospital room as he approached. I could tell they were attached to him because they followed him. 

I couldn’t make out what I was seeing, and i didn’t want to find myself in a psych ward, so I kept my mouth shut about what I saw. 

About how the doctor really looked to me. 

Demonic was probably the best way to describe his facial qualities. 

My heart hammered in my chest and I began to sweat profusely, but forced myself to speak to Dr. Parks like I wasn’t cowering at his true face.

Those vines crawled everywhere. Up his forearms, over the veins in his neck. The skin of his lips was discolored and blackened, as if he’d been drinking ink. 

His eyes were nothing. Hollow holes that harbored a tiny tea sized light within each one. 

His voice sounded normal and he said things like ‘checkup’ and ‘eating healthy’. 

I focused on the tiled floor until he finally told me he wanted me to stay for a few more days. I nodded and acted like I agreed, but as soon as he left, I was out of that hospital room faster than I thought possible. Limping and fumbling to stay on my feet frantically. (My muscles still didn’t work properly, but lucky for me, I hadn’t been in a coma long enough for them to completely abandon me). 

I ran out of the hospital and saw two more ‘things’ like Dr. Parks. I’m proud of myself for not screaming like a five year old girl, but I really wanted to.

I went home, to my apartment on fourth. 

My key didn’t work in the door, instead, a woman answered.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes,” I cleared my throat, tried not to look like a freak. “How long have you lived here?” I asked. “Less than a month perhaps?”

She nodded. “Three and a half weeks.”

“Okay, thank you.” I wanted to ask if she was subletting, but didn’t have the balls. She probably thought I was nuts. I looked around the hallway and knocked on my neighbor’s door. He answered quickly, smoking a cigarette in his boxers and bathrobe (it was 3 in the afternoon).

“Lenny, can I use your phone?”

“Holy shit, Marcus,? I thought you were in the hospital.”

“I was. Look Len, I need to call my mother and ask her if she sublet my apartment while I was in a coma.”

“Okay, cool, just sit down man, you look like you're about to pass out.”

“I feel like I’m about to pass out.” I swallowed thickly. “The nurse said I died. That I was dead for three minutes. Now I’m seeing things. Fucking disturbing things.” 

“Like what?”

“Like people, but not people. Like they have evil in them or around them… I- I’m not sure. It’s not everybody, just some people. It’s…” I covered my face with my hands as I sunk down into Lenny’s couch. “I’m sorry man.” I said weakly. “I just need to use your phone.”

“Sure,” he patted me on the shoulder. “No problem.” He handed me his cell.

I thanked him and dialed my mother.

I always thought my mother was a wonderful person. She’d always taken care of me, she’d always been a good mother. 
She answered on the first ring.

Said she’d already got a call from the hospital that I’d just run off. I asked her if she could come get me. If I could stay with her until I figured out what the hell was going on.

She gushed and told me she loved me, that my dead father would be proud. 

She said she’d be at Lenny’s in less than twenty minutes.

Lenny and I watched The Price Is Right off his TiVo while we waited. 

I told him about the things I was seeing. About the black vines that haunted and hovered around the people that were afflicted by it. He cringed when I told him how the vines crawled the wall and ceilings at the hospital just before Dr. Parks showed up to speak to me. 

Lenny never said I was crazy. Never cracked any jokes. 
I was thankful for that.

A knock on the door let us know my mother had arrived. 
Lenny left the living room and shuffled through the hall to open the front door for her. 

Before I even heard my dear mother’s voice, I saw black, inky veins crest Lenny's ceiling and seek me out. 

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My novel, Trigram, is in the works, but in the meantime, I'll probably be working on short stories such as the ones on Wicked Shorts. (Wink)

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