I met him on a dreary, foggy night. It was cold and I could not see. I could feel the drizzle sting my face like tiny mosquito bites. I wanted to walk out from under the bridge, but I didn’t know which direction was “out.” I could sense concrete on all four sides and then…
Then, “Hello, Son.” he said. That voice. That so familiar voice. But I don’t know who this is. Do I? I tried to look around, but I saw no one. “Are you lost?” I can feel vibration now.I hold my hand close to my face. It is steady. Why is it steady? The shaking is so strong. I loose my footing and fall straight down. I know I should stand, but I haven’t the energy. I just stay sitting.
I feel that small presence, but I do not see it. “Where are you?” I ask.
“Why, I am here with you, Son.” His immediate answer. He is growing. Growing? Yes, he is growing and the shaking. The shaking is too. “Stop!” I yell. It worked. The shaking slows. He is still bigger.
A giant presence, he is, but such a giant, looming feeling. “Why are you standing over me?”
“To make sure you are OK.” He answers almost before I finish my sentence.
What a strange answer. I am fine. I do not understand why I cannot see. Is it really getting darker?. I do not understand why I do not stand up. But I don’t. The drizzle becomes rain. Cold rain. It is so cold! ” I don’t understand.” Did I say that out loud?
“Of you don’t. But I know what you need.”
The shaking. It is coming back. I try to find what is shaking. I see only shadow and fog. Dark fog, like smoke.
“That bottle you are holding.”
I am still holding this bottle? This is from hours ago. I thought I threw this in the trash. Is this the bridge outside of town? No, it is too big. And so much concrete. Which way is out!
“That bottle is empty.”
I know it is empty. I finished it a long time ago.
“You need another bottle. A full one.”
Yes!Yes, I do! I need a new bottle. That will warm me up!
“Let me get you one.”
I feel a cold bottle in my hand. I look down. It is yellow. Yellow? Yes, it is. I can see the bottle. I take a drink. It is sweet. So sweet. I take another drink. It is good and warm. I am a little bit warmer. I need more to be warm.. I take a big drink. I look at the bottle. It is half empty. I look back towards the presence. I am not any warmer than after the first drink. I look back at the bottle. It is full.
“Don’t you see, Son? My bottle never runs out.”
I drop the bottle. He is too big. He is over me. he is too close to me. I cannot breath. I begin to panic. Now, I am frightened. I crawl. I do not stand up. I just crawl. Concrete. A wall? Yes, a wall.
I turn until my back is against the wall. I sit there. I breath and breath. That is better. It is better up against this wall. I can breath here. I can feel the wall vibrate behind me but it is OK. I can breath here. I will just sit here.
“Don’t you want my bottle?”
“Yes you do. You asked for it earlier today.”
I feel a new bottle in my hand. It is so cold. So cold, I want to put it down.
“I know what you really need. You are cold. You need a fire.”
It is bright. I cannot look at it. I look left, but there is no light there. I will just turn around. I will face the wall. I take a drink. That damn shaking! It is getting worse.
It gets better. It is not so strong now. I am a little warmer.
“Of course you are.”
What? Did I say that out loud?
“I told you, Son. I know what you need. You do not have to say it out loud.”
The shaking. It is growing again. So is he. He is growing. Am I crazy? Am I losing my mind? Yes! That’s it! I am going crazy. That’s all. Crazy!
“You are not crazy. You just do not know what you need.”
“And you do?”
He did it again. He answered me before I finished my sentence. Before I finished thinking. Do crazy people think? I don’t think crazy people think.
“You are not crazy.”
No, you are sleepy.”
He is right. I am exhausted. I have never been this tired. I am 32 years old and have never been this tired.
“Let me help you.”
A bed. There is a bed. A big bead. With a big, blue spread, and three huge pillows. Feather pillows. They must be. They are lumpy. Wait. I am looking left. How can I see the bed?
“You still do not understand, Son. You see what I want you to see because I know what you need.”
It is shaking so hard I can feel the hair atop my head wiggle. I want to lie down. I want to lie on the bed. I stand. Really? I am standing? Yes. I think I am. Am I going to the bed? Yes! Yes, I will! It is shaking. It is too hard. I cannot walk. I cannot make it to the bed. I do not want the bed.
“Who are you?”
“Son, let me give you what you want.”
“Anything you want. Anything at all. I just need one thing from you.”
The shaking. It is giving a little. A little more…
I ran. I ran through the pouring rain, through the concrete, through the smoke fog.
I still remember the cold from that night. That one dreary night that he came for my soul.