Saturday, June 20, 2009


Bruises are more serious than scrapes or rashes, less so than scars, but getting bruised over and over again may leave scars like those found on a boxer's broken brow.

I keep getting bruised, more than likely because I keep putting myself into bruising situations. No mystery there, Einstein said it best, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." It's an addict's behavior.

Addicts keep trying to find a way to the object of their desire and are generally willing to run into many walls--small, tall, thick, brick or concrete--without accepting the very basic fact that walls more often than not are made to keep things and people out, not in. We want things that are not ours to have, and so we get bruised, pounding head, shoulders and heart against imponderables and impossibilities that, just to keep it interesting, from time to time have all the trappings of the attainable.

It's painful, incomprehensible to most, including the well-intentioned. Right now I feel as if I am in the perfect storm--I'm buffeted by fears of financial ruin and the not-so-fleeting sensation that a best part of life is gone, never to reoccur. All these feelings, these intemperate emotions, create a Gordian knot within the gut, a weight of intolerable yet invisible density.

The general consensus is that feelings are categorically not facts. If that is true--and I'm not convinced--then they do a damned good job of masquerading. I suspect that, should we be able to read a history of emotions rather than one of assumed realities, we would be amazed at the number of times feelings have dictated actions.

Actually, this gets interesting. Joanna Bourke, in a recent issue of the History Workshop Journal, suggests that the study of emotions upon history--personal or otherwise--might be characterized as ‘aesthesiology.’ The classical Greek terms ‘aesthesis’ refers to the senses and sense perception, but also to feelings and emotions. Aesthesis is a physical reaction to external stimuli, as well as an emotional involvement with the world. As opposed to anaesthesiology, or the rendering unable to feel, aesthesiology is the emotional reaction of the self to stimuli in lived experience.

Emotions can hurt, can bruise, can wound, can render one incapable of dealing with life's necessities. I am not sure whether anaesthetics as a way of life are desirable, but certainly there are times when I wish I could deaden all feelings. Call it a weakness, a character defect, cowardice, whatever. To me, feelings have enough depth and dimensions to indeed be facts. They are as real as the point of a lance or the impact of a club, and can do just as much damage. They explain addiction--the desire to blunt the impact of unwanted sentiments, the desperation one deals with when sensations are rampaging out of control. You can't get much realer than that.

Here's installment 102 of Wasted Miracles.

The Isadora’s plight made the seven o’clock news. The ship

had sped to Baltimore where medical teams had ambulanced afflicted passengers to city and suburban hospitals.

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, had come up with a preliminary finding it felt confident in announcing to the media. Passengers had apparently ingested minute quantities of mangrove root which, for reasons unknown, had been added to a sauce marienere à l’ail des îles. The dish upon which the sauce was served had proven quite popular among the guests.

There were no fatalities, though one man remained in critical care following cardiac arrest that may or may not have been caused by the poison.

The ship’s physician, Dr. Subramanian Purushotham, was interviewed by the local news channel and quite enjoyed the experience. Passengers who were not ill were put up at Royal Scots Line expense in various hotel throughout the town, their bills for the day in port graciously covered by the vastly embarrassed company.

Colin spotted Mamadou’s limo and muttered, “Shit.” Encountering the Senegalese was not in his hastily formed plans. Keeping out of sight behind a parked truck, he watched as the African held up a cardboard sign. Passengers from the ship eddied around the man and Mamadou raised the sign higher.

Soon, two women approached. Colin saw they were young, dressed demurely. They seemed pleased at first to see the limo, then grew agitated as Mamadou spoke with them. One, a tall blonde, kept shaking her head. The other, a shorter brunette, stood slightly back and fidgeted with her purse. Mamadou opened the limo’s door for them but they refused to get in the car.

Curiosity won out. Colin came closer, heard, “...know what you’re talking about. We thought the school had sent the limo. If it hasn’t, then there’s been some mistake.”

Colin edged behind Mamadou, withdrew Joe’s police badge, held it up in the air. The blonde woman saw him first. She said, “Officer, this man is bothering us. He wants to...”

Mamadou turned and Colin stepped back, badge still held high.

If the African was surprised, he hid it well. “Mr. Marsh! Or is it ‘Officer Marsh’? Perhaps you can be of assistance. I believe these young women are perpetrating a felony, importing a great deal of illicit drugs---”

Clare Drake cut him off. “That’s bull-- nonsense. My friend and I are passengers on the ship and...”

Colin shook his head, stepped past Mamadou. “Your friend Herbie is dead. There’s no one to protect you. Nothing will happen, no police, no authorities, if you just hand over the package. That’s all we want and we’re out of your life.”

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