Day Twenty One - Afternoon
Ted's Thirty Day Awakening
There was only one thing Ted disliked more than going to the doctor, and that one thing was happening to him right now. He was being pushed in a wheelchair. A wheelchair, a conveyance for the truly injured. Making matters worse (yes it gets worse, at least from Ted’s point of view it does) the individual pushing the wheelchair only stopped talking long enough to inhale a quick breath, making the sound you hear when someone uses an inhaler. Finally, just piling on the annoyances and trying Ted’s patience, Ted was being whizzed down the hallways at the earth-shattering speed of one mile per hour. Ted whose normal gait looked like he was competing in a speed walking race, could not stand going slow.
So far, it had taken fifteen minutes just to get from his room down to the first floor and what Ted now envisioned as the light at the end of the tunnel and freedom, the hospital entrance. In that time Ted had only managed to contribute four words to the conversation, “Whatever you say, Mario.” (Referring to Mario Andretti the racecar driver, not the Mario created by Shigeru Miyamoto.) Ted was certain, or maybe just hopeful, that he would hear a thud soon as Mario fainted from lack of oxygen. “You know I just love this time of year, don’t you?” Mario asked. Not waiting for, or even wanting an answer, Mario continued on, “Did you see in the news where that—”
“There you two are,” Mom said as she took hold of the wheelchair. “I was about to send out a search party.”
Ted’s parents had left the room the same time as Ted and “Mario Andretti” had but they had managed to make it to the front of the facility well ahead of them. They had arrived so far ahead, in fact, that Ted’s dad was now pulling up in the car. “Well race fans,” Ted heard a sports announcer saying in his head, “it seems Mario got bested out on the track today by a pair of nonagenarians from Canada. Imagine what Howard Cosell would have said had he lived to witness such a forgetful performance by the legendary driver sports car driver, the winner of—”
“Let’s get you up out of that wheelchair,” Mom said as she took hold of one of Ted’s arms while Mario grabbed the other. Ted was relieved that his slow-ride out of hell was finally over and he was outside n the fresh air. He took it as a sign that he was on his way out of the abyss that had been his reality for far too long now.
While being helped to his feet Ted began pondering the whole “you can only leave in a wheelchair” rule. “Why is that?” Ted wondered. Then, as if on cue (or maybe direction from an unseen third party) Mom said, “It’s better than the alternative. Better a wheelchair than a gurney on its way to the morgue.” Somehow, Mom always knew what Ted was thinking. Ted gave a nod of thanks to Mario (not a sincere nod, mind you, more like the nod an inmate would give to the warden upon his release), slid into the back seat of the car and closed the door.
Ted hadn’t thought to ask his parents where they had been staying. He just assumed they were staying at the hotel by the park, so he was a bit perplexed when they drove past the hotel and headed on in the direction of the old condo. “Maybe Dad forgot the condo isn’t mine anymore,” Ted thought. “He is in his nineties after all. Heck, I’m in my fifties and often pull into a parking lot only to realize I have no clue why I drove there in the first place.” But Ted was confident that Dad knew where he was going and if not, well Mom would surely set him straight.
As they drove, Ted was starting to feel the effects of his all-night book bender and the next thing he knew, he had fallen fast asleep.
“Some things never change,” Mom whispered into Dad’s ear. “Take our little man for a drive and within minutes, he’s fallen asleep.”