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Deep into reading Orange is the New Black, a book on one woman’s year-long stay in prison, I hear my name being screamed: “KATHRYN!” I jump in my seat, aware again that I am in fact not in a women’s prison facility but at an imaging center to get yet another MRI on my butt. Whew.
A short burly woman greets me as we leave the waiting room. “I’ll be your technician,” she says to the air in front of us. “Take your earrings out and your clothes off; you can use that locker over there. You have any metal in your body?”
Only my steely heart.
Down to my undies under a hospital gown, I am led into a screening room. Burly Girl and another nice lady hoist me onto the MRI table and lasso my left leg, which has been sticking out at a 90 degree angle for months because my sciatic nerve is somehow pinched. They tie my legs together and put plugs in my ears; I think for a moment that I have stumbled onto Death Row.
They tell me that no matter what, I have to lie still, but my mind roams freely: Clack clack clack, knock knock knock, BUZZZZ. Jesus, answer the door. Let that person out, or let him in, whatever he wants. Sounds like Newton’s balls. Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat, if I didn’t know better I’d think I was being gunned down. Here come the bongos again. Now I’m in a fishing boat and whoever’s driving is going too fast: whump whump whump over the waves, I always love that thrill. Guys always do it to scare you. Twang, twang. Whoever’s driving this boat plays guitar too. A guitar with one string. Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt were in town last night…would’ve like to see them, except for John Hiatt. Hm, now two guitars…two one-string guitars. Nice. Reminds me of moving into my house six years ago…there two days and a huge city project commences in my front yard to replace the entire neighborhood’s plumbing. My yard, base camp—Clang, Clang, Clang, everybody yelling in Spanish. Now I’m in an elevator. Ding. Ding. The machine gunner outside is trying to get me. Two machine gunners, rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat, they’ve very angry at me. Must’ve written something to tick them off, hm, maybe that’s my ex-husband’s girlfriend out there. She’s gotta stop stalking me; it’s not like we’re in Vietnam.
Chop chop chop, whoosh, whoosh, sounds like I’m being airlifted out in a chopper. Apocalypse Now, right now…can’t wait to read that new book by Ann Patchett, some pharmacist going rogue in the Amazon. Good thing I’m strapped down in this tube or I’d be dead by now. That marine vet I met at the gym yesterday was really cute, short and bald, who cares. Glad I remembered to thank him and he said “you’re welcome”; more people should thank our vets. What did he say about being a marine: “First to go, last to know.” Marines are tough. What’s that, an air raid? Keeow! Keeow! Where’s my desk; let me get under it. Yeah, like that would’ve saved us. If somebody was making noise like this in my neighborhood I’d call the cops. So many foreclosures now, stray cats and punks driving around playing their rap. Boom dada boom dada boom.
Can I masturbate in here? Probably not. Probably count as moving. Love! I feel love in my heart. My heart is vibrating…feels good. My entire gastroesophageal system is in love. My eardrums too, my entire upper body, vibrating and in love. That adrenaline rush in your heart…I must be in love with this tube. There’s nobody else.
Chucka-chucka-chucka-chucka. Why is my head vibrating? I’m here for my back. GONG! GONG! Is this a headache? I never get those, but if I did, this would definitely cause one. I must have a strong dura. A marine’s dura.
Finally, it’s over. “You did great!” I hear from somewhere in the tube. That can’t be the burly woman; must be the other. “We’ll be right in to get you!” Right in to get me? They’re coming in here? I doubt that. They should say, “You’ll be right out.” That would be more correct. Maybe I should tell them that. No.
The machine slowly spits me out and they untie my legs. Burly Girl asks, “Need any help getting down?” “No no,” I say. “I’m fine.” I swing my lower body off the table and every bit of arthritis I’ve ever had pulses to life. My lower back seizes and my left leg starts to levitate once more. I stick-walk out of the imaging room feeling like the feral kitten I once plucked from the air conditioning vent in an old apartment from back in the day, feral with crazy eyes, never having stretched its legs. It stick-walked into my closet and hid in a shoe.
I hate the word “feral”. Who’s to say? Who can really tell? I prefer to be where the wild things are, wild like me.