The Frontstretch: Voices From the Heartland: This isn't the afterlife? by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday September 15, 2005

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Voices From the Heartland: This isn't the afterlife?

Jeff Meyer · Thursday September 15, 2005


My first conscience recollection of what eventually turned out to be Sunday afternoon, was a repeated sharp pain in my ribcage. I opened my eyes but all I could see was inky blackness. I closed them again hoping that I hadn't really opened them in the first place, which if I had, I remember thinking in a burst of mental clarity, I had better start learning Braille. I opened them again. Still nothing!

Even though my sight was gone, I could feel that I was lying face down on something very hard, cold and clammy. Somewhere, between the now more staccato pain in my ribs, I thought I heard my name in the distance. I thought I closed my eyes again.

Suddenly there was a loud rustling noise followed by a blinding light that seared into my head, making me realize that blindness by inky blackness is much more preferable than blindness by searing light. The pounding in my ribs had gratefully stopped, but to my dismay, was replaced by a mentally deranged blacksmith slamming a sledge hammer on an anvil inside my head. Yes, someone was definitely shouting my name.

"Jeffrey! What the (extreme expletive) are you doing down here!?"

What kind of greeting into the afterlife is that?, I think I remember thinking. Wait a minute! I'm missing something! DOWN HERE! DOWN HERE WHERE! My mind has now raced straight past bewilderment, headlong into panic, much the same way a stock car plows into the wall after a few laps on Goodyear tires!

Why is my mind making references to racing? Surely, when one is slowly adjusting to a new existence in the great here-after, one shouldn't be thinking of racing! Despite my best efforts to follow pre-conceived notions of protocol when entering a new dimension, colorful race cars are making record setting laps in my mind.

My vision is slowly clearing up now. I think I am seeing two feminine, flip-flop clad feet, complete with maroonish-purple toenail polish and an ankle bracelet. Next to the feet is a brown paper grocery sack that appears to have pools of wetness smeared about on the inside. The problem is, they are at eye level. Again, with the mental clarity burst, I realize that the after-life-protocol-manual must surely insist that one at least sit up when being addressed by a superior being.

Vaguely remembering something about "down here", my attempt to sit up is rewarded with a wooden 'thump!'. The deranged blacksmith is now joined at his anvil by his maniacal twin brother. The feet and wet paper bag are again at eye level. I've decided to close my eyes again, not particularly to eager to open them, protocol or no protocol. The racecars are going faster. Mental clarity can be very painful and is over-rated.

"Where am I?" I manage to ask after spitting out an apparently non-existent, but extremely real feeling, wad of cotton from my mouth.

"You're lying on the basement floor. Under the old coffee table. You had this paper bag over your head. I've been kicking you for 15 minutes now, trying to wake you up! Do you mind explaining all this?"

My eyes are still closed, but I recognize the voice. The thought went through my mind that if this is the afterlife, and I am 'down here' as opposed to 'up there', my wife must not be as perfect as she claimed if she is 'down here' too, kicking me. But then again, maybe that is her idea of heaven. Mental clarity is not only painful and over-rated, it is cruel too.

It's coming back to me now, bits and pieces. There were bountiful cases of iced beverages! Wild prophecies and pontifications! Insults and accusations! More prophecies and even louder pontifications! The world will surely end on this particular Saturday night! We must prepare ourselves! How does one prepare oneself for the apocalypse? You must place a bag over your head and lie down under a table, it was suggested. Will that help? Probably not, but it’s better than doing nothing. I am new to this doomsday stuff! It's coming in bits and pieces. The twins pound on, grinning wildly.

"Whatever gave you the crazy notion that the world would end last night?", shouted my wife in her softest voice.

"I don't know. Something about the cars and the numbers. The number 32 or something", I replied after again removing the cotton wad that wasn't there in the first place from my mouth.

"Well I don't care! You better get your (extreme expletive coupled with an anatomy part) up and clean this house or YOUR world WILL come to an end!" she whispered into the megaphone next to my ear.

I'm crawling up the stairs now. 32., that's not right! What am I missing? I notice that despite the prophecies and predictions, the sun has, once again, risen in the east. The cat box still needs to be scooped. The bills are still scattered unattended to on my desk. Damn! 32.....

Later in the evening, after the twin blacksmiths had left their hammering duties to a couple of midget apprentices who, not being able to reach the anvil, pounded on bongos instead, mental clarity came calling again (wince!)

It wasn't 32. It was the numbers 24 and 8! Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Gordon DID NOT MAKE THE CHASE! The world is surely going to end! That's what it was! Bits and pieces...

Damn! I still gotta scoop that cat box! The rest of you...

Stay off the wall!


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