Flash Fiction #178

empty

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

RUNNING ON EMPTY

Ah, the fervor of youth, when we could accomplish anything.  Too many of the inexorable calendar leaves have rudely smacked me.  Now, as I approach the ¾ of a century mark,  the saying, ‘I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was’ is no longer a joke.

The mind is willing, but the body is weak – and stiff – and sore.  I would still like to be able to do more.  It feels like my mighty engine has been removed.  I’m running on empty.

***

life

Click on the title to hear Jackson Browne sing my elegy, and go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

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Empathy Thrust Upon Me

Medicine

Of all the things I hoped to be when I was young, a wrinkled bag of aches and pains wasn’t one of them.  Some while ago, BrainRants, a mere stripling in his mid-forties, published a post about all the pains and strange body noises he was accumulating.  Bloody amateur, just wait till he moves up to the pros.

Through a confluence of good genes, a relatively physical lifestyle, and a modified Mediterranean diet, I am far healthier than many men my age.

Several years ago, a doctor at a clinic remarked to the wife, “You have a lot of things wrong with you.  Nothing that will kill you, but a lot of minor problems.”  Between prescription meds and supplements, she downs 20 to 25 pills a day.  She has a general surgeon who has removed a couple of skin growths, a urologist, a rheumatologist, a podiatrist and an osteopath.  I drive her to a cancer clinic and an airway clinic for monitoring.

Until recently, I was exempt from all that.  I had sympathy for her, but didn’t really know what she went through.  All that has changed.  It started innocently enough, about 15 years ago.  She convinced me to take an antihistamine each morning, for allergies.  Then it was a Vitamin B tablet.  I don’t know what it does.  I don’t ask. I am a husband, Yes dear, Yes dear.

Vampire

Next was Vitamin D, I took a tablet a day.  Last year’s blood test revealed that I am low on Vitamin D.  It has to do with my vampire lifestyle schedule – up all night, sleep all day.  I don’t get enough sunlight.  (It burns!  It burns!)  The doctor insists that I take two.  I take a multivitamin tablet laced with something to keep my retinas from deteriorating.

This year’s physical revealed that I have ‘Old Man’s Disease’, my prostate is swollen.  It also showed that my thyroid is running a bit slow.  Perhaps that’s a small part of my weight gain.  I am now taking medication for both of those.  Only ten pills a day, 9 of them before breakfast, and a heavy-duty pain pill a couple of hours before dawn, to help me get to sleep.  I now take four ‘little blue pills’, and not one of them made by Pfizer – although the doctor did offer me Cialis.

I’m on a call-back list for a Neurologist, from my eye problem of a couple of years ago, but my Ophthalmologist visits are down to once a year.  My long-time Optometrist recently died suddenly, but I’ve found a nice young female replacement.

The duct of a fat gland in my back stopped up and it swelled a bit.  Nothing to worry about – until it infected and grew as big as half an orange, making it difficult to sit or lie down.  It burst before I got to see a surgeon, but now I’m on his call list, because another gland is swelling.

Because of the enlarged prostate, I have an appointment to see a Urologist.  I’d sooner suffer another colonoscopy.  You’re going to push what, up where?  I’m waiting for an appointment with a Dermatology surgeon because I have a couple of suspect skin growths.  I have yet to acquire a Rheumatologist, although the most recent spike of incipient arthritis had me barely hobbling for a week.

I have had empathy for the wife and daughter (and any of the rest of you who suffer these accretions of ‘minor’ problems) thrust upon me.

The most unfair thing about life is the way it
ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot
of your time.  What do you get at the end of it?
A death. What’s that, a bonus?

I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first; get it out of the way.
Then you live in an old age home.

You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get
a gold watch when you go to work. You work forty
years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement!

You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you
get ready for high school! You go to grade school,
you become a kid, you play, you have no
responsibilities, you become a little baby, you
go back into the womb, you spend your last nine
months floating…you finish off as a gleam.

Here’s hoping that my list of pills and specialists doesn’t grow to match the wife’s, but even if it does, it beats the alternative.  (Did I mention that my ass gets sore from sitting at the computer too much?)

March Madness

I know it’s April! I’ll get to that.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana

Of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up, a wrinkled sack of aches and pains wasn’t on my list.

I can’t brain today. I have a bad case of the dumb.

It’s finally Spring here in Southern Ontario. I know this, not because the robins are back. I’ve heard them for almost a month, but actually saw one on March 31. Not because the little kids have their skateboards and bicycles out, and the bigger kids, me excluded, finally have their motorcycles out, but because, on March 31, as I saw my first robin, I was on my way to the supermarket two blocks away – and they have their Garden Center set up in the parking lot.

And just to show how pissed Mother Nature can be when you don’t get her a nice enough card for Earth Day….  After a week of 60s and even 70s F temperatures, last night she put a big cloud over my total Lunar eclipse, and dumped an inch of snow on my driveway and deck.

The Ode to CWC6161 post, which I published last August 10th, was found by her younger sister, who left a lovely comment on April 11th, thanking me for my friendship and concern for Candice, as well as the tribute I posted. While not a happy thought, she provided closure, and confirmation of The Kindly Hermudgeon’s death. As a sad irony, she died on September 21, 2012, my 68th birthday. The sister must have informed friends/family. By the end of day, I had had 4 views of that post.

The grandson phoned to ask for a ride the other day. On Saturday, May 10, he and his fiancée have a chance to enroll in a one-day Introduction to Falconry seminar. This will be a full day, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Not being a driver, he thought it was near Hamilton, ON, an hour drive. Actually, my research shows that it is just off the main highway, about halfway there – only a half-hour drive, so I won’t have to get up quite as early.

Falconry??!….WOW. They may never use what they learn, but still, a very interesting day. It’s way out in the country. I may catch up on my sleep in the car, and might have to drive somewhere to score a lunch, but I just couldn’t deny them this opportunity.

At the recent Detroit gun/knife show, one of the exhibitors had an old, original movie poster as part of his decoration. From the days when the western was king, this 1951 movie was titled “Snake River Desperadoes.” It was populated with never-really-made-it, C-list actors.

The only name I might expect even my older readers to recognize and remember, was Smiley Burnette, who went on to fame and fortune as the engineer of the train that pulled into Hooterville, on the Petticoat Junction TV show.

The name on the poster that caught my eye, was Tommy Ivo. Tommy was a showboating, California drag racer in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He helped form the sport as it was becoming organized and sanctioned. I thought that his nickname, “TV Tommy” had been because his fame got drag racing televised.

Research shows, however, that he was a teen actor, as taken with racing as he was by the silver screen and the new boob-tube. He used some of his acting income to hire expert mechanics to build engines and bodies, which he and his youthful reflexes piloted.

He was a showman, and a forward thinking racer. Understanding the Power to Weight Ratio idea, he was one of the first to install two smaller engines in one car, while others were striving for bigger power-plants. He first placed them one behind the other, and then in subsequent vehicles, learned how to synchronize them side by side.

Despite the death of James Dean, most studios didn’t have forbidden-pastimes contract clauses. His employers didn’t seem to realize what dangerous ways he was spending his off time. Finally, just as he was 20, they caught on. That was the year he produced the aptly-named “Showboat” race car.

Taking the power to weight thing to the max, he built a 4-engine, 4-drive wheel dragster, with big drag slick tires on all four corners. Sadly, the initial thrust of acceleration torqued the front two off the pavement just enough to lose traction and spin the front tires uselessly. Instead of getting added traction and speed, all he got was a crowd-pleasing cloud of smoke, and slow times.

The studios ordered him not to race anymore. The racing body were afraid that his crazy contraption would injure him or someone else, and refused to let him compete in it, and only allowed single-car, display runs. His racing year ended when a small-block, Pontiac-engined, single-motor dragster defeated him for the top prize.

Its top speed was 179 MPH. The same scientists who mathematically “proved” that the bumblebee can’t fly, insisted that the theoretical top speed in the quarter mile was 177 MPH, and dismissed it as an optical illusion, or equipment failure. When it happened again and again, they learned about “directional friction.”

Tommy did a few more resoundingly forgettable movies and TV shows. Unlike many, he wisely invested his income, and used the dividends to become a racing developer and sponsor, helping to make drag racing into the profitable spectator sport it is.

Oh yeah, why March Madness in April?? Because it’s a great title. Because I’m fractured and forgetful, and because, as usual, I’m late and behind on things. “Scuse me, I gotta go have a talk with the Easter Bunny about some more of those Easter Creme eggs.