P.S.I. Part II -- The Thaw

Chapter 7 -- Body Memory

Home | Chapter 1 -- The Dead Eyes of the Prophet | Chapter 2 -- Rooster & Mundelein | Chapter 3 -- Where's Mike? | Chapter 4 -- The First Visitation | Chapter 5 -- Two Bridegrooms and a Baby | Chapter 6 -- Adding Emeralds to Sapphires | Chapter 7 -- Body Memory | Chapter 8 -- "I Wish You'd Take Better Care of Him!" | Chapter 9 -- Farewell, Big Red | Chapter 10 -- The Real Brin | Chapter 11 -- As Newfangled as Pringles | Chapter 12 -- When the Fat Lady Sings | Chapter 13 -- The Video, The Article and The Interviews | Chapter 14 -- Letters | Chapter 15 -- The Thaw | Chapter 16 -- Where She Walked | Epilogue | Author's Notes | Soundtrack

October 2, 1979.  Tuesday.  Both Mike and Mandy had taken off from work.  She talked him into a hand-holding walk along the beach in the early morning, but he really didn't want to be out of the house.  He wouldn't eat, and sat like the Thinker on the couch, staring out the window.  As the day wore on, he grew more distant, and absentmindedly did some chores.
Around 5 p.m., he went to the foyer and sat staring at the portrait of him and his deceased bride.  Mandy sat at the corner and looked at the outside wall of the kitchen, which held even more Brin photos.   When the hands of the racing silks clock in the middle of that wall approached 5:15, Mike got up and went to the Tack Room.  He stopped by the alcove first to pick up one of Brin's riding shirts.
As 5:38 p.m. approached, Mandy could see Mike's anxiety growing.  She couldn't coax him out of the Tack Room.  Well, okay, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, she thought.  She sat down next to him and looked at the 'Wail' photos.  Mike was sitting on the floor next to the closet; forehead on his knees; arms crossed at the top of the same.  Brin's shirt was on the shelf.

"Why my Brin?!" he yelled as he rolled forward then face to the ground.  "Why my Brin?!"
The doorbell rang.  Mandy ran to see who had called.  Tristin and Rooster stood before her.
"I almost didn't realize what would be happening around this time," said Tristin.  "Then Rooster started talking about his own memories, and I said, 'Perhaps we should pay a visit.'"
"Just in time," said Mandy.  "He's just started.  Exactly what, I'm not sure."
When they returned to the Tack Room, the two psychic women saw Brin standing with him, propped against the closet door frame with her arms behind her as if to keep from being impaled by the corner.  Rooster led Tristin to the shelf, and put her right hand on it.  He then guided her left hand to the wall.
"Memories can bite the big one," said Tristin as she, Mandy, and Rooster sat on their heels.  "And these are really biting." 

"Where are you now?" Rooster asked Mike.
Mike sat up and leaned back against the wall between the window shelf and the closet.  His eyes were closed.  "The track.  I don't wanna see this.  I really don't wanna be seeing this!"  He put his hands up to his ears.  "The Call to the Post--it's so loud!  I don't want any of this happening!  Why won't it stop?"  He put his hands back down in his lap.
"The only way to recover is to face them.  You're going to have to run the gauntlet," said Tristin.  "What's going on now?"
"What happened?!  She came off her mount!  She's not getting up!" he exclaimed and started breaking out into a sweat.  "Why isn't she getting up?!"
"And . . ." prompted Tristin.
"I ran from the spouses' booth--the guy jocks' wives looked horrified. Then I jumped the rail and started running, but the track surface was 'cuppy.'  There's hoofbeats behind me.  'Let me give you a lift!' he says.  It's an outrider.  He takes his foot out of the stirrup, and I mount up behind him.  The last time I had been on a horse was before Brin and I were married.  She had someone's horse out on the beach, and she had on some white gauzy kind of dress.  She put her foot out for me to mount up on, and after I got up there, she kicked the horse into a full gallop."
"Bareback?" asked Rooster.
"Yeah, it was funny, too.  The horse put on the brakes, and I went sliding off into the surf." 

They all had a good laugh.
"Your brain's doing the natural thing--diversion," said Tristin.
"After I got back up, we went over to a tree and sat under it after tying up the horse.  She was in front of me and put her arms up around my neck.  I put my arms around her. . ."
As he was describing the scene, Brin obliged by sitting between his legs with her back to him the way she did then.  He unconsciously leaned forward and put his arms around what looked like air to Rooster, but the two women could see what was happening.

"Just like she's doing now?" asked Mandy.
Mike opened his eyes, saw his arms embracing what he thought was empty air, then shut his eyes tight.  Her ring was burning, and if he didn't know any better, he could've sworn he saw her with the mind's eye sitting like they did that day, only she was dressed in the colors she died in--white jacket with hunter green collar and shoulder panels.  "If that's what you're seeing, I guess so," said Mike.
He was stunned; he didn't know what to do, say, or feel.  He released the "air," and fell back against the wall, feeling numb again.  Despite his body's numbness, his brain was producing memories that included all five senses.
"And now?" prompted Tristin.
The heaving sobs started.  "They're not doing anything," he lamented.
"Who's not doing anything?" asked Rooster.
"Johnny, Roy, Dr. Brackett.  THEY'RE JUST LOOKING AT HER!"
Mike went to his knees, bent over double with his hands to his face, and continued sobbing.  He was kneeling next to Brin mentally.  When he pulled himself back up, he brought his trembling hands toward his nose and yelled, "The blood!  I can smell the blood!"  His eyes were still closed.
Mandy made a move toward him, but Tristin put her own arm up to block her.  The latter sensed where the former's eyes were, and sent her a message without speaking: Not unless he asks for you.  Mandy sat back down.
"What else?" asked Tristin.  "What happened after that?  Do you feel or hear anything?"
"People crying behind me!  Hank just come up behind me!  The engines of the security officer's car and the ambulance!  I've been taken back to . . ." Mike doubled over again.
"To?" prompted Rooster.
"The day I proposed to her!"
Only then did both psychics realize that Brin wasn't standing next to him.  She was down on the floor in front of him recreating the scene.  She usually didn't wear her helmet, but did this time, and the cover was white.
It's easier this way, they heard her say, but weren't quite sure what she meant by 'easier.'
Mandy sat indian-style and put her chin in her hands.  She was feeling very inadequate, and admittedly jealous of how much her new-found love really loved his deceased wife.  Mandy felt she could never measure up. 

"What are you feeling now?" asked Tristin.
"I don't know!"
"Shock, horror, grief, anger, abandonment, violation all rolled into one?" suggested Tristin.
Mike nodded.
"Abandonment and violation hurt the worst," offered Rooster.  He was trying to abate his own tears, but wasn't being very successful.
Mike nodded again, then raised up, grabbed his chest and fell under the shelf.  He could see so clearly that starburst of red, orange, yellow, black, and white when "the Wail" was photographed.  The chest pain wasn't nearly as bad, but bad enough to make him pass out.
"Saints preserve us!" Mandy shrieked as she stood up and put her hands to her face.
"Vincent, help me pull him out from under the shelf, please," asked Tristin.  The two pulled Mike out so they could monitor him better.
"What's going on?!" Mandy demanded.  She looked up at Brin, who now stood and whose face was creased with sorrow as she beheld her fallen spouse.  Brin looked up at her.
He's experiencing a form of post-traumatic stress known as 'body memory.'
"Body memory?!" Mandy exclaimed in disbelief.  "I've never heard tell of such a thing!"
"Body memory!  Oh, yes!  I had quite forgotten about that possibility.  Thanks, Brin!" said Tristin.
"And just WHAT is body memory?!  He's not going to die is he?" Mandy asked.
"He shouldn't die from it.  His body is caught up in the memory, but his brain is more than likely not producing images.  He may, however, be hearing things he didn't hear then."
He's scared, you two.  He doesn't understand what's going on with his body.
"Now, Mike, your body's having the memory, but your brain's not producing images.  That's because at this time, you were unconscious, so your brain doesn't have any pictures to give you.  Just roll with the punches, and the sooner you relax, the sooner it will be over." 

Mike had been rigid as a board, but he relaxed and fell into a position consistent with being placed on a guerney.
"I wonder if he's going to jerk like he did when they shocked him," whispered Rooster.
Mandy looked incredulous.  "Ohhh, please!"
Rooster shrugged.  "That's what happened."
"Mandy, dear," said Tristin.  "Please go call Brin's uncle and see if he can come over."
While Mandy was in the alcove making the call, Mike did jerk somewhat, as if being defibrillated.
Brin observed at his feet, left arm crossed over her stomach, right hand up to her cheek, Jack Benny style.

"Hank's rather unsettled right now, but he's coming over," said Mandy as she walked back in.  "Since he has a key, he'll let himself in."
"Good," said Tristin.  "We'll need him to help us get Mike to his bed over there in the alcove.  We can't leave him here--he'll get too cold and we could possibly lose him to hypothermia."
From one extreme to the other, thought Mike, who was following everything that was going on, though unable to react.
Once Hank arrived, he put his arms together under Mike's head and supported the shoulders.  Rooster and Mandy put the blanket under him, then rolled it up toward his sides to make handles.  Tristin tucked her cane under her arm and supported his feet.  Once they had him transferred, they covered him, and sat ready to assist him when he woke up.  Brin told Mandy to get her riding shirt and put it under one of his arms.  Mandy frowned but complied.
Tristin got a chair and sat down next to Mike, patting him on the arm while saying, "Everything's going to be okay."  Mandy sat next to him on the bed.
Mike realized that the more relaxed he became, the faster the strange memories flew by.  He couldn't possibly put into words his gratitude that everyone had stood with him through this.
Finally, around midnight, he felt the sensation not unlike the ball of fire that went through him at Rampart's ICU before he woke up.  He really wanted a hug from Mandy.
"Mandy," he muttered as he struggled to regain control of his eyes.  "Mandy?"
Mandy scooted up toward his arms.  "I'm here."
Mike opened his eyes and held his arms up to her.  Brin's shirt fell to the bed.  Mandy reached down for him, and pulled him up with her hug.  Rooster, Tristin, and Hank released a collective breath.
"How do you feel?" Tristin ventured.
"Exhausted, but strangely purged," he said, without looking over at her.  He was still hugging Mandy and faced the wall.

After Mandy, Tristin, and Rooster left, Hank called his wife and told her he'd be spending the night at Mike's.  Mandy would've stayed, but had work in the morning.
Mike fell into a deep sleep which was restful until. . .
                           He was running along a canyon road
                          Thinking he would somehow meet Brin
                          He heard a diesel engine behind him
                         And turned, but what's to be seen
                         None other than the Grim Reaper
                         Driving a black Ward LaFrance
                         Pushing forward, speed unabated
                         Mike screamed as he had no chance.
Hank rose two feet in the guest bed at Mike's screaming, and ran to the alcove, completely expecting him to have relapsed into flashbacks.  Mike was shaking like a leaf, knees to his chin, arms wrapped around his legs.  He was hiding his face.
"What's wrong?  Do I need to call Tristin?" asked Hank as he sat on the bed.  Mike grabbed him as if clinging for dear life.  Hank thought he'd die from the constriction.
"Mike, c'mon, what was it?  A flashback?" Hank managed to say through gritted teeth.  Mike shook his head.
Hank decided the best thing to do was just hold him; he was obviously too upset to talk.  After what seemed an eternity, Mike pulled back and related the dream and its narration.
"It's disturbing, but I really don't know what to make of it," said Hank.

Both managed to get back to sleep.  Mike kept having weird dreams about Rampart, like hearing nurse Sharon Walters call his name.  Hazy, blurry scenes of darkened hospital corridors and a Code Blue team running down the hallway with the crash cart.  Then he heard Dixie calling him from afar.
No, Dixie!  I won't go!  I won't go! he said in response.
Why was Rampart so dark?  Was there a power outage?

Oh, Mandy, we didn't know you cared!