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!]
No worries, mate, reassures Screen Six, who fancies himself a bit of a builder.
“So we don’t have the extensive lead time we normally get for a project this size.”
I repeat myself, says Six with confidence.
“The owners want extra touches on the barn because it will be home to expensive Arabian purebreds.”
Purebreds? repeats Five. And expensive Arabians at that, mind you. His voice trails off with an awe-filled Wow.
“And the horses are coming in three weeks.”
Apparently, observes One, Dan has forgotten that a hammer in your hand is a danger to everyone but the nails you should be driving.
Buoyed by the calmness Six exudes, I laugh at the etched lines of concern noted by One and seen on Dan’s sizable forehead. His noggin appears all the larger due to the tan line his builder’s cap has created in this blistering sun.
Black, asks Two, is this a good place to point out Dan’s nickname as a child was Mr. BigHead?
“I’m ignoring you, Two.”
We work at breakneck pace – Dan’s ladder kicks out beneath him, so he leaps for a beam and continues hammering as he hangs by the other hand – but it is clear at the end of Week One we are not going to hit the unrealistic deadline. To help make up the time, Dan brings in his brother, Doug.
At one point, the two brothers disagree on how a certain portion of the barn should be erected. I am no builder –
Oh, the brothers agree on that, says Four.
– so I stay quiet and study the unique manner in which these two soft-spoken men resolve their difference. They walk over to the barn’s upright center post, a 40-foot-high, eight-inch by eight-inch wooden pole cemented deeply into the ground. In the left and right hand of each man is a hammer.
Two lowers his voice. They’re going to beat each other to death?
Doug turns to me, softly says, “Give us a three count, Black,” and the duo look up to the roof. At what they gaze, I cannot see, but I loudly give the count.
Hearing “go,” the Roth brothers swing like Thor of Asgard and slam hammer-clawed sides into the post, human woodpeckers alternating arms and climbing inhumanly fast. By less than one full stroke, Daniel claws his way to victory as he touches the roof first.
Doug graciously concedes the victory, he and Dan return to Earth, and the two build the barn’s next portion according to the older brother’s vision.
No wonder the younger heeds the older, comments One. Unlike you, that elder shows wisdom.
Despite such speedy settlements of design differences, we finish Week Two still behind our timetable. Soon we are the Invisible Men to our spouses as we work 18 hours each day, bodies long pushed past their abilities.
“Black,” says Dan wearily, “gotta work all night to build stalls. Arabians … coming tomorrow.”
Six tries to encourage me, but falls asleep mid-sentence. I nod in friendship – Dan has kept me on despite my limited skills – and we set up the lanterns and generator. Arms that earlier told us they could do no more find renewed strength and forge ahead. I drive thick 40-penny nails with previously unknown accuracy; Dan cuts one board after another and flips them to me.
Only the bats distract me, fluttering so closely that my face and eyes feel the velvet softness of their wings –
Please let it be their wings! begs Four.
– as they flap past. I even mention it to Dan. He looks around the shadows, frowns, shakes his head and slices more boards.
Morning arrives outside the barn, soft light sneaking through the openings yet in need of doors. Dan leaves twice to replenish supplies. I skulk within the darkness, a hammering vampire.
Hampire? queries Three.
And throw hands to eyes, caterwauling in agony, comments Five.
Rushed to the doctor by Dan’s wife, Donna –
Black, interrupts Two, is this a good time to tell readers Dan married Donna, and then Doug married Donna’s younger sister, Dorothy?
– I learn the “bat wings gently touching my face” all night actually are poorly galvanized nailheads chipping beneath my striking hammer and spraying my unprotected eyes. Several metal chunks have lodged in my peepers.
The eye is a remarkable organ, offers Five. Its healing speed is unrivaled, which is why that metal will need to be dug out, not just airbrushed away.
The ophthalmologist leans over, deadens my ocular organs with desensitizing drops, cranks my eyelids wide and thrusts a needle into my left peeper.
“Aughhhh!” I shout. “Stop, stop, stop!”
He snaps upright. “That hurt?”
“No. But I – I can see what you’re doing!”
Did he just mention restraints to the nurse? whispers Two.
Eventually the metal is mined. I am released, head thickly wrapped with eye pads to shield them from light. Donna drives me home and I, with little else to do, lie down to rest.
Sleep is elusive.
Count horses, not sheep? suggests Four.
Dan calls to check up on me. Hearing my exhaustion, he says, “Hey, I’ll drive over and visit for a while.”
I touch my huge sight-blocking bandages and mutter, “I’ll keep an eye out for you.”
Postscript: The ophthalmologist issues a prescription for painkillers. Before Miss Donna drives me home, she takes me straight to the pharmacy. As she parks, my treacherous lips say, “I don’t need ’em.”
Screen Six bellows, Soldier tough! though I’ve never served our country.
Unable to see Miss Donna’s face through my thick wrappings, I nonetheless hear her voice. “Let me get these, anyway. Please? Just in case. If the pain returns when those desensitizing drops wear off, you’ll regret not having this order filled.”
She wins – cleverly pulls the “boss” card, comments One – and goes into the drugstore while I sit, blind and baffled, in the truck. Just four minutes have passed since we left the ophthalmologist’s office. Only nine more tick by as my friend waits for the pharmacist to package the tablets and ring up the charge.
Miss Donna returns to the truck, which no longer contains her friend and employee but a crazed man howling, “My eyes! Aughhhhh! There’s a brick in ’em, a whole brick just shoved in!”
“Would you like two painkillers now?” she sweetly asks between my screams. “I bought you a pop to take them with … just in case.”
Can’t see a thing, Black, says Four, but I think she’s silently laughing her socks off.
* * * * *
Yes, dads, our daughters grow this quickly
Stuntman dressed as cop struts his stuff
I’m flying this airline from now on
A harmonious bow to Easter and Passover friends