WHO’S SAYING THAT?
John’s thoughts muted, everything went numb. His eyes were still closed but Sam’s voice continued.
I…can’t explain what happened. I don’t know WHAT happened. But I can hear you, John. And you can hear me. I’m sorry John.
I…I’m…I don’t…Sorry for what?
Well if you can hear what I think, I’m wondering if you heard those things I’ve thought about your sister.
“John? JOHN? OH GOD THANK YOU!”
John’s eyes darted behind his head, struggling to get his lids open—they were like two weights tied to his cheeks. When he finally opened them, the light was too much to take in and they rested.
Are you trying to open your eyes?
How did you know?
Because I’m not trying to, I’m numb everywhere…but it feels like I am…
John’s anxiety was mounting. He tried to calm himself down, tried telling himself that whatever was happening was just in his mind.
It’s not. Sam’s voice corrected.
“John? Are you with us? Sam say something…Please honey, please John, try to say something anything to us to us.” Their mother’s pleas bounced in both their minds, mixing as one. Both families sat on either side of the boys, who were occupying two pushed together beds as one.
To everybody’s surprise but the boys’ own, John and Sam woke up at exactly the same time, as they knew they would.
“SAM! OH MY BABY!” Patricia’s eyes welled-up, “I know things are going to be hard at first…”
Sam stared at his mother, squeezing his father’s hand, and realized he could get more confused than he already was. John agreed, because at the same time his mother was reassuring him about something they’d find the strength to overcome, too.
“John, oh my baby, thank god you’re ok. Baby, know I love you no matter WHAT, ok baby? We’re all in this together.”
“…but we’ll make it through this. I’m just so happy you’re alive my baby.” Patricia and Doris began sobbing. Neither John nor Sam could make anything of the situation between the crying and kisses. The nurse, having been frozen in shock, finally thawed and raced wailing out of the room and down the hallway.
“We need to know what happened to you two.” Patrick, John’s father, ordered—a much more serious tone than John could ever remember.
“Pat, please! Give them some time!” Doris snapped, squeezing John’s hand with hers.
“There’s a detective here. I think the nurse is getting him now. He’s going to ask you boys some questions about the accident. You boys need to be honest, ok? In order to help you, he needs to know what you know.” Sam’s father nodded, a little ashamed to admit he was frightened of his son waking up.
John lay stunned.
Police? Questions? Accident? What the hell happened?
I don’t know, do you think we’re in trouble? John was startled by Sam’s response.
I don’t think…should we tell them we got beat up?
We can get Frankie and those assholes in trouble at least.
If we need to tell the truth, I guess…
The nurse raced back to the room, and indeed brought a detective with her.
“Pat, Doug—do you mind if I have a moment with your boys? Mrs. Chicken, Mrs. Fish?” Doris and Patricia kissed their sons one last time before reluctantly leaving the room, their husbands tugging them towards the hallway.
“Hello boys, I’m Detective Valance, is it ok if I ask you two a couple’a questions? It won’t be many, scout’s honor.”
They both nodded.
“Do either of you two boys remember anything about your accident?”
John tried to speak up, but couldn’t form a word.
“Nobody gave you any water yet? Geeze.” He poured two cups and handed them to John and Sam. When they reached, their sheet slid down a bit, exposing what, at a glance, may have looked like John’s skin blended together with Sam’s.
Neither understood it—but both panicked anyway.
“No.” Sam said, now with even more to take in. John just shook his head, lost in the middle of his and Sam’s speeding thoughts.
“Look. We found you boys in a puddle of metallic…gel…something…on the sidewalk. Were you playing with something? Did something spill? Anything you can remember at all, it would help us figure out what happened and help find a cure for…you.”
“No…” Sam spoke again.
Detective Valance sighed, “Ok then, I understand. Look, I’m going to leave a card with my phone number on the…”
“…truck.” Sam struggled.
“A…big…truck.” John followed.
“A big truck? A truck spilled this on you? I…boys. There was nothing on the scene when we arrived: no truck, no debris, no witnesses, nothing. Something like a pickup truck maybe?”
John and Sam looked at each other in horror.
Sam recalled Detective Valance’s voice in his mind, “No truck. Nothing on the scene.” What the hell happened to us John?
I…don’t know Sam. Let’s look. We have to look.
I don’t think we…
Just do it Sam, or I’ll do it for you goddamn it. Ready? One…two…
Detective Valance tried to steer the boys away from the shock of reality, noticing their tightened grip on the sheets, “I think you boys should wait for the…”
But it was too late. Each took their trembling fist full of sheet and tossed it aside. There they were, Chicken and Fish, seamlessly molded together from their underarms to their waists; smooth as a baby’s bottom. They tried looking up, but only heard Detective Valance shout
Before they slipped back into sudden sleep.