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The Fisher of Stories



“Nightmares don’t last.” – C.S. Lewis

It was a bad day for the boy, behaviorally speaking. His father had to be called at lunch, when he had a minor meltdown in the middle of a restaurant during his mother’s “last day on the job” party. He begged and pleaded as his mother picked up the phone, but it was too late.

His father had yelled at him, threatened him, and told him he was in all kinds of trouble. The boy said “Yes sir,” a lot and nodded enthusiastically, even though his father couldn’t see that. He made up his mind to try harder, and maybe his father would forget about the misbehavior after his long day at work…

Then, in the evening hours, the boy had continued his misbehavior, and had earned himself an early trip to bed. As he tossed and turned, trying to fight sleep because of the injustice of it all, he thought about how fun it would be to live in a world without parents, a world where he could act how he wanted all the time without consequences.

He vaguely remembered a life like that, but it was getting so hard to remember…

…The dream started normally. It was a sunny day, the sky was blue and clear, and he was in the yard doing his favorite thing, playing. The grass was green and crisp, and he could smell the earth underneath it. Trees waved gently in the breeze, dropping the occasional leaf, which he chased. He was full of fun, and most importantly, he was not “in trouble.”

He was now with his friends. Not just the friends he had made on his street at his new house, but every friend he’d ever made, in both of his lives. They were all there, laughing, talking to him, telling him how much they loved him. 

Now they were playing a game, and he was winning. He was beating everyone, running faster than he ever had before, scoring more goals, a perfect performance. His friends admired him, cherished him. They pounded him around his shoulders, telling him how awesome he was. Every team wanted him first. Every little girl cheered his name as he dominated the other boys. He even engaged in a little trash talking, and he was not rebuffed by his fellow competitors. On the contrary, each one smiled and lowered their head in respect, giving him the adoration he wanted. 

The thought entered his mind that he’d like his parents to see his performance, because their approval was something he desired. Images flashed through his mind; faces, so many different faces. He ignored it, and searched the periphery of his vision for the people he called mom and dad now. 

He turned his head, and that’s when he first noticed something was wrong. He couldn’t find his parents anywhere. He swiveled back and forth, searching desperately, finally resorting to asking his friends if they had seen them. His friends were willing to help of course, and asked what his parents looked like. He opened his mouth to tell them, and when he tried to describe what they looked like, he couldn’t remember. He tried to recall their faces in his mind, but it wouldn’t work. He kept seeing heads with no faces on them. Smooth, hollow orbs, with no distinguishing characteristics, just glossy polished discs of terror.

He didn’t want to cry in front of his friends, but the tears started to fall anyway. He tried to explain what was happening, but couldn’t get the words out. His friends suddenly turned on him. Each mouth transformed from a helpful smile to a sneer, then the laughter started. 

“He doesn’t know who his parents are!” 
“Haha! Why can’t you tell us what they look like?”
“He probably doesn’t even have parents!”

Then their faces vanished too. 

He screamed. 

His world slowly dissolved around him. He shook his head to clear it, but it didn’t improve his vision. He needed a superhero right now. Superman, with his blazing eyes and bright blue suit. Superman would help him. He had seen Superman help so many other people, and he thought for sure the faces of his family and friends disappearing qualified him for some super-support. 

Where is Superman? Iron Man? Spiderman? Where is the hero? 

The voice that answered surprised him. 

The man paused briefly at the side of his son’s bed.

He had been getting ready for bed, and the scream had grabbed his attention. He knew the house was devoid of intruders, and was certain a bad dream was tormenting his son.

He watched as the boy tried to shake off the nightmare, his head moving back and forth, murmured words lost in translation as they rolled into his pillow. It appeared as though the boy was asking questions, trying to explain something.

The turbulent head tossing proved to be too much for the man to watch. He wanted to intervene, needed to intervene, and save his son from the terrors of the night. He stooped down with gentle hands to work his heroism.

“Son. Wake up,” he said, shaking the boy gently.

More head tossing. More murmurs. Desperation was etched on the boys face, sweat glistening on his skin, eyes quivering with random movements, the hallmark of dreams both good and bad. The man tried again.

“Son. Son.”

Where was Superman? Why wasn’t he helping? 

In the midst of the dream, the darkest hour, he felt a strong hand on his arm. The darkness lightened, but only a little. Then another hand, and a shaking sensation. He heard the voice again. Why was he talking about the sun? He looked for the sun, rotated his head around until he found it, a dim circle in this persistent darkness. If the voice wanted him to look at the sun, he would try…

Light — harsh, preternatural light — filled his eyes. The sun seemed to be right there. 

The boy looked up blearily. He wiped his eyes.

“Hi dad.”

The man laughed.

“Hi son,” he said. “It was a nightmare. You’re okay.”

“Thanks Dad.”

“You’re welcome, son. Go back to sleep.”

“I love you Dad.”

“I love you too, son.”

His friends slowly swam back into view, each one wanting to know what had happened. There was no teasing, only genuine concern and the unconditional love of fellow playmates.

Warm laughter once again filled the air as he told them everything was okay, a hero had come. 

“My dad fixed it,” he told the children. “Mom was there too. I found them.” 

His friends surrounded him, hugged him, told him they loved him. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was on the field again, playing hard, and winning. 

Everything was wonderful. He was the best again. 

“When enemies are at your door, I’ll carry you away from war, if you need help, if you need help. Your hope dangling by a string, I’ll share in your suffering, to make you well, to make you well.”  – Phillip Phillips, “Gone, Gone, Gone”

Well, I’m Unbreakable. I’m Superman.

This was a big hit at school. For both of us.

I know we’ve all been over this before, and I know I’ve written countless stories about what it would be like to be a super-hero, but this time I’m actually convinced.

Here’s my evidence:

A. I recently got hired on at the newspaper I’ve been freelancing at.
B. My blood has become impervious to needles.

My proof for exhibit A can be shown with a picture:

Staff Writer, witches!

My proof for exhibit B will take a story…
Those of you who are avid readers of this blog will probably remember that I’ve never had a “normal” experience giving blood. For example, this tragedy happened earlier last year.
Those photos are the result of a young woman pulling a little too hard on the tube that feeds the blood into the bag, thus liberating the liquid Travis to a quite untenable home on the floor, and more unfortunately, my (at the time) brand new shoes.
Fortunately, someone in the BloodMobile had their head on straight, and doused them down with hydrogen peroxide, which later allowed the blood to wash right off, and left me with nothing but the memories.
The next time I gave blood, I talked with the nurses about “50 Shades of Grey,” and left quite a large puddle of butt sweat on the donation table. (Go ahead. Click those highlighted words if you haven’t read it before)
Which brings us to my most current decision to rent out “essence of Travis.”
I saw some signs around NSU (the university I attend) the other day for a blood drive. A couple of days previous to that, I had gotten a phone call from the Oklahoma Blood Institute about coming in and donating again because they had a drive in my area. I told them sure, I’d get around to it, and then never did. So I felt the guilt when I saw the sign.
I went in and got registered and, of course, bombarded social media with it, because I know those of you on Twitter and Facebook obvs care about every second of my life and want desperately to know what’s going on at all times.

Until it’s a man, then it gets real weird.


No one ever answered me, is he seriously still alive?

Then, a gentleman started the blood giving foreplay, which entailed feeling up my arm like it was a reluctant but well-meaning prom date, then tapping it with the blunt end of an iodine swab, then rubbing it voraciously with said swab until my skin shone like the oily skin of the aforementioned prom date.
Finally, he stood, poised at the brink, with the needle tip aimed at the crook of my elbow.
Now, I don’t know if he just “guessed” where my vein would be, or if he employed some sort of methodology learned in school. I also realize that my veins are coated in a thick layer of sub-cutaneous fat, and they don’t like to give up the good stuff easily. Maybe if he’d have spent a little more time on the foreplay, they’d have been more receptive.
He missed the vein.
Not to be discouraged with the attempt, he happily poked around the inside of my arm for a solid minute, at last uttering something that sounded an awful lot like a “Hail Mary.”
Oh how I longed for Expert Vein Sticker, mentioned in that story I told you to read a minute ago.
Finally, he called a friend over.
She, to be perfectly blunt, took a stab at it.
She failed.
Finally, someone walked over that looked very familiar.
Our reunion was as follows.
Me: “You look really familiar.” EVS: “You do too…”Me: “Were you at FBC Okay that one time?” EVS: “You’re 50 Shades of Grey guy!”
With the salutations out of the way, she attempted to get the flow of blood going. She succeeded, prompting this exultant tweet.

When I stand before the Throne, and Jesus asks me why he should let me in, I will say, “I AM A BLOOD DONOR!”

Then, to my surprise, something happened.
Actually, lots of things happened at once.
For one, the machine I was hooked up to started beeping like the heart rate monitor of a man who has just found the Victoria’s Secret catalogue mixed in with the hospital reading materials.
Then, everyone rushed to my side, providing me with a Kleenex box to elevate my arm, and a new way of squeezing the little thing they give you to squeeze.
EVS came over, and she tried like all get out to get the flow of blood started again, but all was lost…
I had clotted.

In all seriousness, I expected that tweet to go viral. Nothing. Not even a favorite.

Apparently, my blood contains such awesomeness, that when I am pricked, I immediately clot. They gave me a t-shirt and sent me on my merry way, leaving me with nothing but the bruises to show for it, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to have to replace that poor blood sucking machine. I do hope they use what little they collected for some sort of analysis though, particularly after a conversation with my mother.

Me: *regales with story you just read*
Mom: “Travis, that sounds bad.”
Me: “Well, bad for them.”
Mom: “If your blood is doing that coming out of your body, what do you think it’s doing inside your body?

imageimageimageimageSo there’s my evidence. That’s why I believe I’m Unbreakable. That’s why I believe I’m Superman.
Now someone get me some paint cans and bench press, I need to try something.