Monday, March 21, 2011

MILES: Chapter One, pt. 4

She touched his hand and he jerked back, like a jolt of electricity had jumped through his arm, nearly knocking him off his barstool. Karen jumped, startled, scattering photos across the counter and onto the floor. Miles snapped again, his spine seized and he grasped and clawed desperately at the bar, his fingers gaining no purchase on the polished surface. She shrieked, but the startled sound of her own voice seemed to snap her back to the reality at hand, and she immediately reached out to help him.

The bar fell silent, save the desperate scramble of the man at the end of the bar. The couple at the other end of the bar quickly scurried to a booth, not wanting to be involved in the conflict. Doc Brown hustled around the bar, as fast as his frame would let him move, tearing off his apron as he rounded the corner.

“Goddammit Miles,” he said under his breath.

Miles jerked and lashed out, his eyes rolled around in his head, and Karen instinctively tried to steady him, but every time she reached out he seized again, like he was trying to fight his way away from her, trying to back himself against the corner to avoid any more contact. But he was intoxicated and clearly out of control, and finally he seized so violently that his legs gave way, and he buckled in two: first falling onto the barstool and then collapsing in a heap on the floor.

“Aaah!” he cried out, clutching at words that wouldn’t form. Karen followed him down, trying to secure his flailing arms, but he was a tangled bundle of furious energy, drunk and confused and disoriented, and he fought his way upright onto his knees. “K-K-K-Yeaaahh!” he shouted again.

“I think he’s having a seizure,” she said to no one in particular. “We’ve got to hold his arms–”

Their eyes locked for a moment, and his hand lashed out unnaturally fast, grabbing Karen’s sweater, digging his fingers into her arm so viciously that she cried out in pain.

“Where are you going?” he asked, finally able to form words, his voice harsh and desperate.

Miles squeezed again, and his eyes widened. Karen stared at him in disbelief.

“K-Karen. Where are you going?” he asked again, insistently. His voice was hollow and distant, it seemed to come from somewhere far away, and Karen realized that he wasn’t really looking at her, he was looking through her, at some distance place on some unseen horizon. Her grasped her with his other hand, and struggled against her to regain his footing. Doc Brown tried to intervene, tried to pull Miles back, but Miles seemed not to notice. Doc Brown was easily twice his size, but Miles twisted and convulsed, making him a difficult quarry to secure.

“San- San Francisco,” she stammered. “To see my sister-in-law.”

“You can’t,” said Miles. “You won’t–”

Doc Brown had finally wrestled himself behind Miles, had one arm wrapped around his chest and one around his waist, but Miles desperately pawed at Karen, who had backed away just out of reach, clutching her purse.

“You won’t make it to Paradise! You won’t make it to Paradise! There’s blood in the road. Twisted metal and broken bones! Anjie, I’ve failed you again.” His voice trailed off into nonsense – not quite words but angry sounds, violent and fearful.

Miles stared again off into the distance; he seemed to be responding and reacting to something no one else could see. He pointed and cried out, his head bounced and rolled. Tears streamed down his cheeks. He grasped frantically at Karen, throwing his weight forward and nearly pulling Doc Brown off balance, and she involuntarily stepped back. Miles began to speak again.

“John is driving, the kids are screaming. The road to Paradise, and now there’s so much blood! So much blood!” Some moments his voice was clear, but between his cries he mumbled unintelligibly, the words lost in his tears and violent sobs.

“What the hell is going on here?” John’s voice behind her made Karen jump. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

“He…” Karen started to explain, and found she had no words. “I don’t know.”

“Anjie died in the road!” he continued to cry. “I’m so sorry, baby. I couldn’t save you. They wouldn’t listen!”

With a sudden burst of strength Miles broke free of Doc Brown’s grasp and lunged at Karen. John instinctively stepped between them, pushing Miles back with a massive hand. Miles flailed and clawed at John’s face, screaming.

“I don’t know you! I don’t know, but Karen… Karen… she dies in the road!” Miles cried out.

“Oh, I’ve had just about enough of this,” John said gruffly, and as Miles tried to push past him he heaved Miles back and punched him square in the temple. Miles snapped back, his head knocking against the edge of the bar. He crumpled into a sobbing heap, blood dripping from a nasty wound on the side of his skull. Doc Brown rushed to his side and looked up at John, an unreadable expression on his face. Miles heaved quietly on the floor but did not speak.

“Take the boys, to the car, sweetheart,” said John, his eyes fixed on Miles.

“But he’s hurt,” she said. “He’s bleeding.”

“I said get in the car, Karen!”

Michael and Gabriel both clung to their mother’s leg, terrified, and she finally acquiesced, guiding the boys out the door, a mixed look of fear and pity on her face.

“Sorry about the mess,” said John pulling a wad of money from his pocket and slapping a twenty on the table. “And you,” he said, looking fiercely at Doc Brown but pointing to Miles. “You keep a handle on him!”