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Full Nelson – part one May 9, 2011

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
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Void. That’s the only word that crossed Jim Nelson’s mind. Void like a check that had been canceled, not void like darkness or nothingness, although he didn’t know how long he’d been laying in the alley. He didn’t know what alley or where or how he got there.

His head hurt. His first movement, recognizing he was lying with his faced turned to the right, was to take his left arm around to see if his left hand could feel anything unusual. Starting at the base of his neck, he ran his hand up and down, south to north, to the crown of his head. No bump or cut. Then, opening his hand, he gently examined his entire head. Nothing unusual.

Next, Nelson would try to get up. He was sore. He could feel his legs and back stiffen with the attempt to move. Rolling over on his stomach, wanting to right himself, but thinking it wouldn’t be a very good idea, he did it anyway.

Instantly, the vomit spewed forward. Nelson pushed himself up and away, leaning back to sit on the back of his feet. Breathing fast and shallow he reached for the handkerchief he carried in his right back pocket. It was still there as his scraped, blood-caked right hand gathered it up to wipe the remnant from his mouth. Why did vomiting always seem to make you feel better, he asked himself. Then, barely audible, he said, “Dammit!”

Looking around, he saw it was a neighborhood alley. He wasn’t left in an industrial or commercial district or worse, thrown into Lake Michigan or the Chicago River. He decided this quiet place was reasonably safe. Nelson began to wonder where he was, so he stood up to survey his surroundings. He could figure out why he was there later.

Stomach still queasy, Nelson made it to his feet. Finally looking at himself, he saw that his blue IZOD sports coat dirty and beyond repair and his matching blue IZOD collared shirt was still caked with gravel and grease. His blue jeans were not torn but they wouldn’t be worn again. He tried to focus down the alley ahead of him when he heard a car go by very close behind him. He wasn’t twenty-five feet from the street. Turning around then wobbling, he walked toward it. While it was still night, he looked to his right and could see the faint color of dawn crawling up the sky. He decided to go left, toward the darkness, and find a street sign that might give him a clue about his location.

“New England and Armitage?” Nelson posed the question to no one listening. Looking down he noticed his watch gone from his left wrist. Feeling the left back pocket of his jeans, his wallet was intact. Pulling it out, he looked inside to find all the credit cards and money gone, “$300…what was I thinking?” passed through his mind, but his driver’s license was still there. Small comfort but some comfort nonetheless.

Nelson noticed a bulge in his front left pocket for the first time. A cell phone. Checking the clip he always carried on his belt, on the right side, he felt the phone gone but the clip still attached. Reaching in his pocket, he retrieved the phone and noticed immediately it wasn’t his, but the time showed “4:10 am, Mon May 23”.

An icon on it indicated there was a message waiting to be heard. Nelson knew his cell phone service required a *86 to retrieve messages, but he couldn’t begin to guess what the password might be. He stared for a long moment at the phone, punched in *86 and waited for the password prompt, which followed in familiar fashion. He tried the code from his phone but that was rejected. He thought for a moment and decided to start at the beginning. He punched in four zeros.

“You have one unheard message,” the automated voice responded immediately, “First unheard message was sent at 3:45am today.” Then a moment of silence before a voice Nelson didn’t recognize began to speak to him.

“Jim. Suffice to say you are confused right now. First things first. Get to Harlem Avenue and walk down to the Oak Park L station. You don’t have any money and you’re a stranger in Galewood so I’d start now. I expect to see you there no later than 5am. Why’s that, you’re thinking, let’s just say you want to keep your family safe and you want to keep your name out of the papers. 5am, Oak Park L station on Harlem. I’ll be in the white SUV with Wisconsin plates on Westgate by Caribou Coffee.”

The automated voice began to speak, “To delete this message press 7…,” but Nelson didn’t listen to the rest. He closed the phone, returned it to his left front pocket and started jogging west.

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