Day Twenty One - Evening
Ted's Thirty Day Awakening
Ted’s parents had a problem. Forty years ago it would not have been a problem, but today…well, it’s got them trying their darnedest to find a solution. Forty years ago Dad would have reached into the backseat, picked up his son, and carried him into the house. But at ninety-something, and with his fifty-something-year-old son weighing at least 170 pounds, carrying Ted from the car to the house was not a viable solution.
“I say we just leave him to sleep,” Dad said. “He’ll come inside when he wakes up.”
“Maybe a few of his friends could lend a hand?” Mom asked.
“But that would ruin the surprise,” Dad said, putting his hand to his chin as if that would somehow enhance his solution finding abilities…but all that came to mind was, “Where’s Superman these days when you need him?”
“I’m starting to think maybe we should have asked to borrow that wheelchair,” Mom said as she opened the passenger door and gave Ted a gentle nudge. “Wakey-wakey.”
Ted opened his eyes, saw where he was, and asked, “Why are we at the condo? You are aware that the bank took it back, right? You have to know, you said you moved everything into storage.”
“We lied,” Mom said tilting her head to the side and giving a hint of a smile.
“And we got the bank to give you a little more time,” Dad said.
“Besides,” Mom chimed in, “they agreed (eventually) that evicting someone in a coma would not be good for business.”
Dad added, “I think the thousands of phone calls to the police checking on your welfare, helped convince them.”
As they made their way to the elevator, Ted got the feeling that his parents weren’t quite telling him the full story. They were up to something, but he was too tired right now to try and wrangle it out of them. There would be time enough for interrogating them later. Right now he was looking forward to being in the comfort of his “things” and happy to know that he would not be staying in a hotel room, at least not tonight.
Now that Mario wasn’t setting the pace, Ted reached the condo well ahead of his parents. He unlocked the door and was intending to keep the door open for his parents to enter but once the door was about halfway open a chorus of “Welcome home,” came from a handful of Ted’s friends who were waiting inside.
After Ted exchanged handshakes and hugs with everyone, Mom took him by the hand and lead him into the living room. “Just wait, there’s more,” she said as they headed off.
Scattered around the living were twenty or more laptops, each opened and with a handful of people who, when they saw Ted enter the room, said in unison (well as in unison hundreds of people in different cities can be), “Welcome back to the living!”
Ted was in shock. He just stood there scanning each screen, picking out familiar faces, holding back tears. Never would he have imagined that this many people cared about his life. He was overwhelmed and glad he was still here to experience so much love.
Eventually—Ted’s not too quick when it comes to picking up on social cues—Ted noticed that everyone was focused on something behind him. Not sure what he would see, and a little fearful of what he might see, Ted turned, ever so slowly, and looked behind him. There, holding a giant check, were two of his “co-workers.” Next to them stood a few other friends holding balloons. It reminded Ted of the TV ads for Publishers Clearing House. While he was still trying to take it all in, someone tossed some confetti into the air.
The check was made out to Ted but the amount was blank. “Since we’re still raising funds,” Don, one of Ted’s co-workers, said, “we left the amount blank. But, if you turn around, we’ll find out how much has been raised so far.
There were now eleven laptops sitting side by side, and starting from the left and moving to the right Ted watched as someone in each laptop help up a large piece of paper with a symbol or number on it. First Ted saw as a $ went up on the first screen, then a four a seven a two and then a comma followed by another four a two a zero and a period and then a one followed by a five. Ted scanned the laptops again and as he was about to say the number a chorus of voices said “Four hundred seventy-two thousand four hundred and twenty dollars and fifteen cents.” Followed by cheering and more confetti. It was as if Publisher’s Clearing House and a Jerry Lewis Telethon had come to life in the condo.
Over the next few hours Ted learned how friends, family, and supports had come together when they learned he was in a coma and that the bank was about to foreclose on his condo and set up a crowdfunding site but they did not set up a campaign to help pay medical bills or save the condo, no the campaign was set up to raise fund for two novels Ted had talked about writing for years. Two novels that it would seem the world wanted to see written as well. At least they were willing to put up “Four hundred seventy-two thousand four hundred and twenty dollars and fifteen cents.” By the time Ted had been filled in on all the details, and discovered that the entire event had been live streaming on Facebook, another $118,010.52 had come in.
After reading the text on the campaign page Ted had just one question for everyone, “Where did you get so many details on That’s Unicorn Piss and Thursday?” Ted knew he had shared a lot about That’s Unicorn Piss with people but he had not shared Thursday with anyone, other than Deb.
“They got it from me,” Mom said. “Deb and I used to talk about Thursday and how we longed to read it. I took what she shared and combined it with many of the things we have talked about over the years from politics to the press to wars and imagined those things would be part of Thursday.”
“And Unicorn Piss, I mean come on, who doesn’t want to read about someone whose poking fun at the way the world works and how we go out of our way to fit in, no matter the cost?” Alan asked. “Carlin made a career out of pointing out the absurdity of how we live our lives.”
“Or if we think it’s B.S.,” said Jon.
“Or unicorn piss,” added Tom.
“All I know is your friends took what I told them and things they know about you and what you’ve posted online and created your story highlighting your wish to have the time to write your novels.” Mom said.
“And looking at the numbers, we are not the only ones that want to experience these stories,” Joe said.
“The world is waiting for more of your stories,” Dad said.
“And we all thought that by focusing on raising money for your two novels, you’d have to come out of your coma so you could finish them.” Mom said as she gave Ted a hug.
Ted still had more questions (like how is he still being allowed to be living in the condo?) but they could wait for another day, right now Ted just wanted to open up his laptop and start writing:
It was a Thursday afternoon when the doorbell rang interrupting The Sultans of Swing—my go-to album while cleaning. As Knopfler sang “And they decide who gets the breaks,” I said, “Alexa…pause,” and made my way to the door. Where instead of being greeted by the UPS driver or mail carrier, as I expected, I was greeted by someone who with so much as a hello asked, “Do you recognize this bottle?”
“I…um…do I what?” Was all I managed to get out. This most unusual question caught me off guard.
“This bottle, have you seen it before?”
“Maybe, I don’t know, why?”
I was handed the bottle for closer inspection, and then in a manner that reminded me of someone offering a dog a treat (without the accompanying “whose a good puppy”) a scrap of paper was dangled before my eyes, “How about this? Have you ever seen this?”
The paper had yellowed with age, and there appeared to be something written on it. Something handwritten that looked vaguely familiar. I took the paper from the stranger’s hand and read, “Somehow fate, or the universe, have brought this message to you.” Now I knew why the note looked so familiar, I had written it, years ago.
“This is mine. Well, it used to be mine.” I could not believe it. It had been at least twenty years since I tossed this bottle, and twenty-four just like it, into the sea. “Where did you find this? And how for God’s sake did you ever find me?”
“You’d be surprised what can be done when money is no object. Now then may I please come inside?”
Even though I had no idea who this individual was nor their intentions, my need to learn just how my message had found its way back to my doorstep was greater than the little voice in my head that was doing its best to keep me from inviting this stranger into the house. Oh, how I wish that little voice came with an off switch.
“Please, come in.”