For Vic Harris

Victor,
I’m here again.
Are you glad?
Your mouth contorting
(was that a smile?) with
eyes shaking frantically,
head on institutional pillow,
turned to me,
trembling
with the strain of simplest movement
only
for the briefest moment
before collapsing back
to that position you’ve held
for over eight years now.

Victor,
your eyes are open.
Do you see me?
Can you hear?
What are you thinking?
Are you thinking at all?
Word and thoughts
crowded
behind a locked gate,
screaming, fists pounding,
helplessly trapped?
Or do you dwell
in blissful silence,
dead long before
you are buried?
A dial tone,
humming,
and buzzing,
a rainbow test pattern
flickering on the dim screen.

Victor,
you were so strong.
A bull elephant,
Baloo to my scrawny Mowgli,
Rocky to my Boss
in our Protestant mafia,
Led Zeppelin IV
on the eight track
of your Corvair.
We were young
and foolish,
and fearless.
Invincible.
Beating the odds
so many times
until that needle,
those demons.
We never thought to fear
the ordinary:
hard concrete
of that curb,
that fall
which turned your brain
into this prison.
Why you and not me?

Victor,
your shirt is clean.
God bless the nurses here.
Single fleck of saliva
on your lip
sparkling in the sunlight.
Victor?
Hello?
Operator,
we’ve been cut off.
Please leave a message after the tone.
No!
I want to talk to him,
hear his voice,
his laugh,
and feel his bear hug.

Beeeeeeeep…

Okay, uh, Victor,
This is Bill.
Sorry I missed you.
More sorry than I can say.
Um, we’ll talk again, man.
He’s coming back, remember.
And we all get new bodies.
Hang in there.
I love you, man.

Beeeeeeeep.

This poem is about Vic Harris, my erstwhile best friend and partner is lots of crime (literal and figurative). We were inseparable for a few years, indulging in many vices.

Vic lies at a convalescent hospital in a “permanent vegetative state.”

I define ‘grace’ as ‘undeserved favor.’ We’ve all experienced plenty of that.

Well for me, this one is about grace, too, since Vic continued on the path of darkness while I was rescued to a life of joy. Why… there is no answer to that one. No answer, but the response would be: Show gratitude and don’t waste your new life. Okay, God, I hear you.

I had left and gone to the Philippines, but other friends nursed Vic through his demons, both invisible and injectable. Vic had no sword to kill the Bolrog, or else, having the sword, he waited to use it until it was too late.

No one knows for sure what happened, but Vic’s been in a coma now for at least 8 years, apparently from a repeat of a head injury. The last time I visited him was a few years back. I just now got confirmation that he’s still there, still “alive” and little has changed… no improvement, nothing worse. And the calendar pages keep on flipping…

That freaked me out, and next came this poem.

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About billdavisthoughts

From San Diego, CA. I've been a missionary and Bible translator in the Philippines for over 30 years and have travelled as a language learning consultant to 15 countries. I play piano and guitar. I write, read voraciously and love to work on word puzzles. Married for 35 years, we have two daughters and two grandchildren.
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One Response to For Vic Harris

  1. LBJ says:

    Bill, I had no idea of Vic's state. Your words are profound and deep. One day we will know the reasons of God's hand in different situations. Some go quickly, others linger….in many different states. I'm sorry for your pain in this part of your journey…how you must ache for your friend. I remember Vic.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I'm glad you continue to press on in your journey with Jesus…with a focused purpose…say hi to Donna
    Blessings,
    Annie Bennett

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