Monster on the Pan
“Hello, anyone home in there?” Joe asked, as he snapped his fingers in front of the boy’s face. Thomas’s mouth hung open, and his tongue dried like cool clay in his mouth. His eyes were blank.
“Can you stand up, Tommy?” his Dad asked.
Oh no, Margie thought, he’s been hit by a car! Her knees buckled and she grabbed the wall. A cold, steel bear trap tripped and grabbed the inside of her stomach. It was paralyzing and painful.
She had been inside watering plants when she had heard the shattering crash. “Joe, what happened?” Margie screamed from the doorstep.
“Dad…? You look funny...,” he said. “...and everything looks weird.”
Margie looked out the front door, and saw the car stalled in the road. She ran across the lawn and down the steps where her son sat on the sidewalk.
She hugged him to her chest, and rocked him back and forth. The blood from the cut on his head stained her white blouse.
“Mom, I’m O.K.,” he said, his words muffled by the hug of his mother.
“Is the boy hurt?” Mrs. Lucado asked, as she ran across the street; her hair in a big, fat, bun. “I’ve already called an ambulance,” she said. “I was in the kitchen mixing up a big pot of vegetable soup when I heard what sounded like a bomb landing inside of my house,” Mrs. Lucado said, bent over with hands on her knees, and investigated Thomas. “I want to tell you, I ran into the living room. It was like one of them Arctic blasts coming inside my house! I swanny it was cold. That’s when I saw the broken window, and found Frank Sinatra lying dead on the floor. Don’t cha’ know, whatever it was, came in through the window and broke the fish tank...sliced that fish right in two!”
“Oh Mrs. Lucado, I’m sorry,” Joe said.
“It’s okay, I can always get a new fish, but it’s your boy there I was worried about…, so I went ahead and called the ambulance.
“Yeah, that was a good idea,” Joe said. “Thanks.”
Neighbors watched the paramedics place the young boy on a stretcher. Some talked to Joe and Margie, others stayed on their porches and watched the red lights twirl.
Paramedics strapped him down, stretched a green-tinted, plastic-mask over his head, and pumped oxygen to his air starved brain.
“Tommy, you’re gonna’ be all right,” his Dad told him.
“Dad, I feel fine,” Thomas said. His voice sounded like the tin-can radio they built together. “but, everything looks so weird.”
“What do you mean?” his father said. “Do you mean things look blurry, or what?”
“Things look brighter Dad,” Thomas said, “that’s all I can tell you, is that things look brighter.”
His parents were not allowed to ride due to insurance purposes, so they followed close behind. Christmas red lights blinked on and off in the back of the van. The new color produced a dizzying effect, and his forehead throbbed with pain.
Sterilizing supplies and instruments hung from racks along the inside of the vehicle. A bag of fluid suspended from a chrome stand bumped and swayed with each bump in the road. A steel bed pan beside his head rattled against the wall. It sounded like an insane Hawaiian drum.
They stuck a needle in his arm and injected a pain killer. It stung at first, but gradually eased his discomfort. Thomas rolled to one side, looked face to face with the insane Hawaiian drum, and fell into unrestful sleep.
The ambulance hit a pothole and knocked him awake. The pan clanked beside his head and his eyes opened wide with horror. The face of a monster stared back at him. For the first time in his life, he saw the red exclamation point stretched across his face. He rubbed hard on the mark, but it would not come off.
And from a distant place in his mind, he heard the voice of his father echo from an empty can of lima beans, “I’m the Monster in the Can,” and he began to cry.