Mick Ranko woke as the duration of the talking alarm on his cell phone reached critical mass–cursing and chiding him to get up–promising more audible irritations until he physically tapped the “OFF” icon. Tonight would be his first night run. He liked driving at night–hated sleeping in the daytime, but the substantial shift differential made up for the inconvenience.
Still lying on the sofa, Mick began entering the awake world with a long body stretch–mustering as many muscles as he could in one fluid motion from toes to neck. However, his familiar waking stretch felt odd somehow. He couldn’t feel his neck, nor his face for that matter. Mick peeled himself off the faux leather sofa and spotted his smokes on the kitchen counter. With cigarette in hand, he lifted it toward his mouth but missed somehow. He tried again…missed again. Maybe it was all those Mojito concoctions at Jimmy’s last night? Maybe he was still drunk? For that matter, even his stomach felt queasy, but that could be due to all the sushi he ate. It was Half Off Sushi Night at Jimmy’s and though he wasn’t that fond of raw fish, he was low on dough and beggars can’t be choosers.
Mick wondered why his face was numb? He never heard of a hangover causing numbness. He was becoming increasingly irritated as he tried to remember his evening at Jimmy’s. He felt like vomiting so he hurried to the bathroom.The nausea was forgotten when Mick glanced in the mirror. Gripping the sink, he stared at his face. A death mask that looked like him, stared back–unmoving, stiff and…Botox!
It was the rigor of Botox. He knew that from hours of watching science programs on public television and….Jimmy’s Sushi Bar and Botox….that SOB injected him with Botox? Mick couldn’t fathom why Jimmy would inject him with the expensive therapy. Mick was just 30. Why would he need or want Botox? He tried to avoid the indented puns but something fishy happened to him last night at Jimmy’s. But what? He needed to know before going on the road, though he didn’t need to feel his face to drive the 18-wheeler to Panama City, but it was damned uncomfortable. That’s when Mick vomited in the sink.
Mick figured Jimmy’s would be open. He got into the shower and as he was washing himself he found unexplained bruises on the backs of his legs. Foregoing the shave he drove to Jimmy’s. A sign on the bar’s door stated Jimmy’s Sushi and Botox would be closed for the remainder of the month for renovations. Mick certainly would not wait that long to question Jimmy. He had a phone number for Jimmy in his phone.
“Jimmy, it’s Mick Ranko. What the hell happened last night? My frigging face and neck are so tight they’re numb. You gave me Botox? Why?”
“Some guy came in and paid me to give you a super treatment. Said he was an old pal from McMurdo. You were okay with it, Mick.”
“I don’t remember any of it. Who was this guy, Jimmy?”
“He never said. Just that he owed you. Oh, and something about his great-grandfather’s musical blueprints–whatever those are.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Jimmy? I was at McMurdo Station in Antarctica while I was in the Army. My rotation to McMurdo was 6 years ago. What did this guy look like, Jimmy?”
Mick never got the answers to his questions because Jimmy ended the call. Mick was going to call back but realized he needed to get ready for work. During the short drive home, Mick’s left arm went numb. At first he thought it was a heart attack, but that didn’t make sense. The next conclusion caused him to turn around and head for the nearest ER. By the time he reached the ER, Mick’s arms and legs were completely numb. He was unable to walk. His eyelids were drooping and he was slack-jawed. His kidneys were shutting down. His liver functions were off the charts and he was on oxygen. The doctor in charge of his case told Mick that he had all the signs of botulism. He was losing ground and it was just a matter of time before they had to put him on life support. Mick thought about all the plans he had made to return to the Army at his former rank of Sargent. Ironically, Mick had asked for another tour at McMurdo and the Army was sending him there next rotation. Now he might never make it.
Mick Ranko did survive and rejoined the Army and returned to McMurdo Station–human proof that anything is possible if you have good Health Benefits. Sadly, Mick lost his life when a huge piece of the Ross Ice Shelf calved, plummeting him to an icy death. And Jimmy? He’s serving time for a number of crimes committed that night. When asked about the mysterious stranger who paid him and the meaning of the musical blueprints, Jimmy just told everyone, “I got nothing“.
Inspiration Monday for 5/26/15
Prompts: musical blueprints, I got nothing, indented puns, unexplained bruises, human proof.
Word Count: 839
Many, Many Kudos for Stephanie Orges who is crazy enough to host this challenge at Be Kind Rewrite.
The title of this story would mean something for those of us who watched the cult classic “Easy Rider”, 1969. The song I have punned with the title to the story was originally recorded by the Fraternity of Man (as “Don’t Bogart Me”) for the soundtrack toEasy Rider. The slang in the title was coined from Humphrey Bogart’s on-screen chain-smoking, and refers to holding on to a joint too long without passing.