Tag Archives: lost

The incident

17 May




The incident

by L. Stewart Marsden


How do you feel?


They have you on some pain meds. You had stitches in your head and quite a few on your arm.

Cuts. At least I didn’t break my damn hip. ‘Cause then I’d know I was gonna die.

You’re not gonna die from this. The doctor said she wants to run a battery of tests.

They always want to do that. Assault and battery is what I call it.

It’s for your own good.

Says who? The doctor? She’s just trying to screw the system with her tests.

I really don’t think that’s the case.

Trust me. This whole medicare thing is another way to line the pockets of doctors and lawyers.


Well, doctors.

Speaking of lawyers . . . the guy you hit has got one, I hear.

Screw them, too!

Calm down, your heart monitor’s beginning to look like a roller coaster.

It’s supposed to look like that — otherwise, I’m dead.

Oh. So tell me. What happened?

It was an accident.

Yes I know. What happened that got you into the accident?

How the hell should I know — it happened so fast! And the guy jumped out of nowhere, by the way!

But what were you doing up on that side of town?

I got turned around. I don’t know. I went to Publix. Hadda few things to get and I got ’em. So I’m pulling out of the parking lot onto the big drag.


I don’t know. I turned right instead of left. The traffic was so heavy, and it was easier not to turn against it. I guess I figured I’d go around the block to catch a light. I dunno. I just never went around the block.

How did you feel?

Whaddaya mean, how did I feel? I felt fine! I guess. I was thinking of another time . . .

Your wife?

No. There was a time I got lost.

As a kid?

Not as a kid. As me. An adult. I got lost on my way home from work. Jeesh! I bet I’d driven that same route to work and back for thirty-five years or more. And I got lost.

When did that happen?

A year ago. It happened a year ago. In October.

Not quite a year.

Who’s counting? Anyway, I was thinking about that time.

Weren’t you retired then?


Why were you coming home from work, then?

I dunno. I was out driving. And I went past the office. What’s the big deal? So I was on my way back home.

What happened?

I just told you! I got lost! And . . .

And what?

I guess I freaked out.


I don’t know . . . I got scared! It was growing dark and nothing looked familiar to me. After all those years, and nothing looked the same any more.

How did that end?

Like today. I ended up in the hospital.

Were you hurt?

No. I was scared, like I said. I pulled over and put my flashers on. A state trooper came along, and he ended up calling for an ambulance. It was a lotta hype over nothing. I was fine.

Did you stay in the hospital?

Overnight is all. And, they ran tests, too. I tell you, you even drive by a hospital these days and they run tests.

What were the results?

I went home.

Of the tests?

See? That’s the thing. The doctors were kind of mumbo-jumbo with me. I think they told my daughter more than me. She said I was upset over my wife.

Over your wife?

Yeah. She had just died. Cancer.

I’m sorry.

Why should you be sorry? You didn’t know her.

I know you.

Yeah. It was a tough time for me. But I was handling it.

So she would have died a little more than a year ago, then?

In September. When the leaves were just starting to turn. When we would head up to the mountains and stay until the really cold weather set in.

Was she . . .

Hospice. She had been in hospice for about a month. I have a picture of her — one of the last ones I took — at the beginning of the summer. She looked pretty good then.

I’d love to see it.

I sent it to my daughter.

Oh, speaking of your daughter . . .


She called.

She called you? How the hell did she know to call you?

The office administrator called her. The police had reported to The Glens that you were in the accident and in the ER. The gal knew about you and me, and called me. That’s how I found out where you were. I was so worried!

Yeah? You were worried?

Yeah. I was worried. Anywho, they gave your daughter my number and she called after she called the hospital. She’s nice.

She can also be a pain in the ass.

I wouldn’t know about that. She was nice to me over the phone, and told me she would be down as soon as she can catch a flight.

Oh, jeesh! More drama! She probably wants to know how long I have left, is all.

Why do you say a thing like that?

Because it’s true! Alla my kids are sitting by the phone, waiting for the damn thing to ring out the news that I’ve died.

I don’t think . . .

You don’t know! Since their mom died, it’s just me separating them from all that money!

All that money?

Okay — maybe not a huge amount.

And don’t you live off that?

That’s the point! I’m a drain on their inheritance! Every day my heart continues to beat, that pile of cash flows out the hole — like an hourglass! Exactly like that!

She sounded very concerned about you on the phone. Why would she rush down here if she didn’t care? I told her you were fine and there was nothing to worry about.

Did you tell her about the guy I hit? I bet she was all upset about that!

We didn’t talk about that. And she was concerned about how you are.

And did she mention the other time?

Last October? She didn’t say a thing about it.

They think I’m losing it. You know, the A- word.



Oh. Well, we are the right age.

Not for the bad kind.

There’s a good kind of Alzheimer’s?

You know — what they call chronic. Comes on earlier — and works on you faster. You vacate quicker.

I didn’t know that.

That’s ’cause you don’t read. If you read more, you’d know a lot about these things.

And I’d have my head full of them and worry about everything.

I don’t worry about everything! Just the important things.

That’s why you take all those pills, I bet — ’cause you only worry about the important things.

See? I’m supplementing all the things my body doesn’t make for me anymore.

And how many are prescribed by a doctor?

Well . . . one.

And how many of those pills you take does the doctor know about?


My point. If you don’t gag to death first, all those other chemicals in your body are going to blow up!

What you don’t know.

What I don’t know might kill me — right! But at our age? Who gives a flying fart? Look, they’re gonna keep you over one more night, and I’ll come get you. You can stay with me until your daughter gets here. She said she’s going to stay a week until she knows you are safe.

A week? Jeesh! What the hell did I do to deserve all this?

Well, apparently you got lost again and hit someone. And for the second time, already.

I didn’t hit anyone the first time.

Thank God for small miracles.

I’ve got to go and clean up your place for your daughter.

It’s not messy. And it’s only my daughter.

It’s not messy to you — a guy. To me? It’s messy. And she is a daughter who loves you. All that other stuff you think is crap. So, they tell me tomorrow around ten. Hey — we could catch ball game!

Spring training is over. It’s the playoffs and the World Series is coming up.

Whatever. So, let’s catch a World Series game, then.

You know nothing about baseball. Absolutely nothing. You can’t get tickets now!

I don’t know. Ever been to a World Series game?


I’ll work on it, then. I gotta go. You rest and don’t get so upset with the doctors. They’re all trying to help.

Help themselves. Hey . . .


Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Yeah. You’re welcome. See ya tomorrow.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 17 May, 2014

King of the Land of Forget

5 Apr


King of the Land of Forget

by L. Stewart Marsden

My father’s king of the Land of Forget
and can never remember a thing,
from his crown to his robe to his scepter or ring
my dadly king cannot ever bring
himself to get up and away at the start of each day
because of what’s slipped from his mind.

Regardless of all that he does to remind
himself of a long list of things,
he continues to rue and regret all the things that he let
disappear in the Land of Forget.

Tho’ he’s tied colorful strings
round his fingers and toes
and sticks stickies upon his large nose,
my father — the king of the Land of Forget
forgets wherever he goes.

Of course the very worst times of the year
which he fears as the worst to remember —
those three little months he forgets more than once:
October, November, December.

But he’s ever a part of my singular heart
and I’ll love him — no matter what goes
though his memory is short, he will always hold court
as the king of the Land of Forget —
and this he will evermore know.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 5 April, 2014




Pop’s car

20 Apr

Pop’s car was a fine sedan
that he kept in pristine condition.
Immaculately clean
without dent nor a scrape;
its silver chrome gleamed,
its fin fenders cut
through the air like sharp knives,
its big black tires with whitewall trim
rolled along without wear.

He had driven his car for about twelve years,
though the mileage reflected little use;
Fifteen thousand, perhaps.
He drove the three miles to his work
and back home;
and on Saturdays to the A&P store;
and Sundays to eleven o’clock church
and then Howard Johnson’s for brunch.

Never a change.
Never a veer.
He drove his sedan like clockwork.

One day, his sedan made a left
where it always before made a right,
and continued on to the top of a hill,
and down and around the corner
Pop had no idea where he was in the world.

He gripped the wheel till his knuckles were white,
leaning forward, he peered straight ahead,
and totally lost, he turned and he turned and he turned
as the sun slowly set in the sky
and the sky turned from bright blue to black.

He frantically tried to recall the way,
But had no idea wherever he was,
and his sedan, the pride of his life,
had become an unruly ride
and turned and bucked and spun all about
while Pop hung on for dear life.
This dependable ride was now coarse and untamed
like a stallion that has known no commander,
and Pop, my dear Pop was now helplessly caught
at the edge of a tempestuous whirlwind.

An officer called from two counties over
where Pop had run off a main road
and struck a young jogger — an innocent hit —
who was none the worse but excited.
And Dad drove out into the night to retrieve
Pop and bring him back home
much to the relief of the rest of us here.

And yet the end of Pop’s story, I fear,
was far from over.
That night, it just began.

And Pop’s sedan was let out to pasture,
ne’er to be ridden again.
He had done my Pop in on that memorable night,
On that night he had done my Pop in.