Daniel Arthur O`Ryan lay silent beneath his hospital covers as the heart monitor intermittently sounded its annoying alarm. The eighty-three year old man had been stricken with brain cancer, and now faced his final moments with a barrage of silent noises. The mechanical whirl of his feeding pump began to tone its beep that his meal bags were empty. As per hospital procedures with all patients on a ventilator, Dan’s two middle fingers on both hands had been taped to the bed rails to prevent him from pulling the tube out of his throat. He was quite a sight to behold, all wired up.
Even after the neurologist had told his wife, Sally that he was brain dead, and had drifted off into a coma after having aspirated on his breakfast orange juice, Dan was somehow aware of everything around him. It was as if he had been standing in the corner of the room watching every gory detail to the bitter end, like some damn spectator.
Then, it happened. Just moments after Dan’s cardiologist and his two student nurses departed through the ICU’s sliding glass door, Sally froze where she stood at the foot of the bed. Aghast, in-between excitement and total horror, his wife was speechless. With lightening speed, Dan rose up on both elbows, leaned forward toward his wife’s direction and pulled the breathing tube out of his mouth in one swift motion. Abruptly coming out of his long coma, with eyes wide open, hoarsely told Sally, “To do it all over again --.”
Suddenly every alarm rang out along with his screaming wife as a medical team ran in, witnessing his flat lined computer screen. A second later they began to comfort the DNR’s newly pronounced widow.
A black, silencing moment later everything changed.
Dan found himself totally aware of everything that had just transpired at the moment he died, and yet, somehow -- afterwards as well -- almost. Yet the shock of his present state took him half a moment longer to recover.
Seeing Sally standing in her regular spot behind the teller’s counter of The Second National Bank immediately brought a smile to his now twenty-one year old face. Realizing that this was the very day they were to meet for the first time in their lives, and that a month later he would propose marriage to her made Daniel’s perfect brain race. Being the fourth person in line gave him enough time to compose himself, and figure out why he would have gone back in time to this very moment baffled him tremendously. For he had had no regrets whatsoever about his life with Sally.
Suddenly, his inner thoughts were interrupted as Dan turned about to respond to the tapping on his shoulder. A beautiful, slightly older than him, brunette stood behind him all dressed in black. Aggressively shoving an automatic weapon into his hands, she yelled, “Take it and get to work buddy.”
From that breath onward everything that followed was a complete blur: the chaos of gunfire, people dropping, Sally’s blood splattered against the back wall, the maze of police vehicles and lights, ever changing court dates, and the prison experience itself. As he lay there, all stretched out on the padded gurney, with an audience just beyond the bullet proof, wire re-enforced windows, Dan numbly watched in slow motion as the fluid of his execution edged its way up the tube entering his left arm. A moment later the guard standing next to the controls heard the prisoner say, “To do it all over again.”
Fighting against the waves as more loomed off in the distance, threatening to silence his gasping calls for help, Daniel saw Sally leaning over the side of their blue and white yacht. Holding her usual Long Island Iced-Tea, she was laughingly scolding him to stop his horse play so far in the open waters of the ocean. Suddenly, shouting and pointing to a fin slicing its way through the overpowering currents several yards beyond his bobbing head, they both screamed in unison. Bathed with thoughts of scenes from the movie Jaws, Dan spat out salt water while trying to say, “To do it all over again.” Out of a flash of red came a new realization.
Two men sitting under a covered bus stop grimaced a half smile to one another as a light drizzle of rain began to pour. Growing a little concerned that maybe his bus-stop companion was from loony Ville, the young man replied to the older gentleman as his looked at his watch again, “Wow, man. What in the world did you do to deserve all that?”
Interrupting the multiple stories of his fantastic life, Daniel O`Ryan stood up and cautiously approached the curb so as to hail a yellow cab. His worn expression answered back to his restless companion, “You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you, son.”
Suddenly, without warning the young man jerked back in shock as a FedEx truck jumped the curbed hitting the old man throwing him aside into the oncoming traffic like a discarded rag doll.
As the medical team quietly worked around them, turning off the life support machines, the Psychiatric Hospital’s Chaplain spoke softly to Sally as comforting as his could, “You know, my child only The Father knows the true heart of man.” Then making the sign of the cross, Sally slowly walked out of the room looking for her children down the hall.