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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD. 

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]

NCL StarEditor’s note: Blackie had been skin-diving alongside an intoxicated tourist group in the Puerto Vallarta region of the Mexican “Riviera.” But he rises for air and learns the dive boat left him behind. Alone in the ocean beside a lush jungle, our hero has his bright-orange swimsuit and little else. Encouraged by his quick-thinking screens, he puts his face down in the warm waters and begins to swim several miles, a less-than-wise man following a distant “Star” (shown above).

Can’t believe those TSA people stole your diving knife, moans Screen One. That’s an absolutely essential piece of survival equipment.

“Think I don’t know that?” I bark back. “Now I’m defenseless on land and in the water.”

Still, could be worse, suggests One.

“How?” I say in disbelief, turning my face for oxygen with every third stroke. “How could this situation get any worse?”

Could be going through what your brother Barry did 18 months ago, explains One. He and his girlfriend, Miss Lisa, got left out in the Atlantic Ocean, five miles off the Florida Coast, when they were scuba diving and spearfishing.

In shark-filled waters, adds Four.

With night closing in fast, says Five.

I stop my swimming. I tread water long enough to say, “You’re – you’re right. I apologize for my wrong attitude. This could be worse than it is.”

Although it is already late afternoon, sighs Two.

And you do have a ways to go, adds Four.

“But … uh, but I’m swimming in much shallower water,” I reply, trying to hold my new and improved attitude. “It’s unlikely a barracuda or shark would get me so close to the rocky shoreline.”

Possibly, notes Four. Still, as that one biologist mentioned back at the port, these waters are home to some of the world’s largest octopi. He said they love to lurk among the very type of shoreline you now swim.

Three pipes in, Do you guys remember the video of that octopus grabbing the shark in the Seattle Aquarium and gulping him right down? Even sharks don’t stand a chance against an octopus this big!

I put my mask over my face, pop the snorkel in my gasping mouth and start kicking again, this time scanning the rocky bottom for tickly tentacles. I will swim the entire distance this way if it keeps me from getting a goodbye grope.

You’re breathing so hard, observes Five.

“Yes, Five, I am. Just a little bit tired and a whole lotta scared right now!”

Easy, Five continues. Just saying it may be tough to hear any boats in the area.

Every tenth stroke now sees me lift my head completely out of the water – an awkward stroke, indeed – and peer around for the S.S. Minnow.

Three-quarters of a mile later, I notice to my right the rocky shoreline opens up into a cove brilliantly bathed by sun. My head lifts and my eyes gaze upon a scene my mind cannot grasp:

Anchored within the cove is my tourist dive boat.

Delirious, I stroke hard to the craft, meeting first the very captain who deserted me. “Hey,” I shout, still in the water, trying to peel equipment off so I can throw punches freely, “you left me behind!”

Alcohol-glazed eyes look at me without comprehension. Or perhaps it’s without interest. His only words are, “No speaka Anglais. Yo hablo espanol!”

You speak English! shouts Six. You left us behind and you know it!

Previously unnoticed, Miss Dina gently steps between us and helps me aboard, shaking her head as I shake my fist. Once I’ve had a warm drink of water and a bite to eat, she encourages me to work off some of the anger by swimming. “The cove is beautiful. Shallow. Safe. Don’t waste this incredible opportunity.”

small morayI dive into the easy waters, immediately finding a small moray eel. Following his excited wiggles of escape, I run into two more slightly larger eels.

Five laughs. More dangerous and, thus, more interesting.

My anger must’ve strengthened my lungs. I stay down longer and longer on each descent. On one, however, I’m bottomside way past the proper point –

Boss? interrupts Three. The other screens and I are getting light-headed.

– and when I finally decide to swim the 15 feet back up, I cannot. I’m blocked.

Why is there a whirring propeller right over us? asks Four. Why does its boat keep moving the same direction we do?

I push off a rock and erupt at the surface, gasping for air. “Pay attention!” I shout. “You almost cut me in half with those blades!”

Three crewmen smile. “Hombre, we been lookin’ for you. Time to go.” Pleasantly surprised, I kick fins hard and flip over the side of the boat. I look up into the concerned face of a Star passenger. “Well, Miss Dina,” I say, “they didn’t leave me behind THIS time.”

“Yes, they did, Blackie. I was still diving, too, so they came to pick me up in this skiff. When they brought me back to the dive boat, they said, ‘We go now. We’ve got everybody.’ I didn’t see you aboard, Blackie, so I asked them to find you.”

AGAIN? roar six screens. Three crewmen hang their heads and motor me back to the dive boat, which lurches into its long ride back.

After way too much time, the Puerto Vallarta harbor re-appears. Hmm, ponders Six. Maybe it was 10 miles, after all.

We dock and I race toward the Star. My screens want to investigate all the shouting going on behind me, but nothing’s going to distract this ADHD-gifted boy –

Except all those soldiers with guns? queries One.

soldiers– except all those gun-waving soldiers who wonder why I didn’t go through their checkpoint first. They angrily insist I climb into their jeep and return for proper re-entry procedures.

Good of you to go along with that, notes Five.

Finally on board the Star itself, I run the six flights up to my cabin. I clear the landing and see Laura running down other steps. “Hey, Mrs. Blackwell!” I proudly call. She turns, her face showing utter disbelief. “What’s – what’s wrong, Laura?”

“You. Your boat came back earlier without you.”

“No, I just got back. I’m running to our room to find you.”

“But I saw the people offload. I even asked the captain, ‘Is this the excursion snorkeling boat?’ and he said yes.”

She didn’t know there were two different dive boats, muses Four.

“So … where were you going just now?”

“To Star security. To report you missing.”

“Please don’t. I’m not.”

“I know. Well, I know that now.” She fights a small sob. “What if you’d somehow been left behind?”

Six screens relish the moment, settling in for the telling of a great story. They are amused by the size of my beautiful brown-eyed bride’s brown eyes as details unfold. It’s a great night.

In fact, it’s a great trip. The rest goes without a hitch.

And without a knife, adds One.

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Postscript: My clever twin, DiAnnie Oakley, wanted to expand her home’s already large Thanksgiving gathering to include still more beloved relatives. She writes:

All in favor of [South Dakota denizens] Aunt Jo, cousin Kenny and wife Laura coming to Ohio for Thanksgiving, raise your hands. Because we are Blackwells, raising both hands counts as two votes.

Even those hands that are short. Not short hands. Short fingers. Like not enough fingers. Like 4-½ fingers. Those still count.

Screen Six sighs, She’s a dead-on shot, this one is. Right between your eyes, Blackie.

We’ll set out plates for you. I’ll do it, not Dennis or Ted, because they are not very good sharers of food. They would give you the teeny, tiny dessert plates, and the teeny, tiny glasses. Actually, Mike is pretty crummy at that, too. (I can hear you ready to challenge, Mikey, and all I need to say is “fruit salad.”)

Then there are the wine bottles. Those aren’t shared very well by another who shall remain nameless but is the only one included on this e-mail and not yet mentioned.

“Well, boys,” I laugh in satisfaction, “at least she plugged the Barron right along with me.”

And since Dennis always locks himself into the middle of the table so he doesn’t have to get up, we just need to pass “around him.”

Looks like we’ve got this … a plan is taking place.

Forgive me, interjects Four, but isn’t a plan in the head of DiAnnie kind of like dynamite in the hands of Teddy?

* * * * *

The BatKid Rises [above his leukemia!]