Volume 2, Number 6 -- June, 1997

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Blood Poisoning - Part I

by Greg Tennant

- 1 -

Mud. Black thick sticky mud, and a bearded face just barely peeking up through the surface. Someone's stuck here.
The mud-streaked eyelids open. Droopy, dreary eyes look out from the depths of a hot-springs mud bath.
With a deep tired breath, the face rises from the pit and a body appears. Mr. Will Geist, 25 years old, lifts himself out of the murk.
In a tiled shower stall, four other showerheads silently watching, Will waits for the mud to wash slowly off his naked body. This fella's got a monkey on his back the size of a mountain gorilla. Poor chap.
As he stands in front of a mirror a few minutes later, bloodshot eyes staring back at him, feeling sorry for himself, he makes a decision: The beard's got to come off. It's ragged, it's long, and he looks like a god damned hippie. And after that his hair's getting cut.
The straight razor grazing over his fingertips tells him so. "I wonder just how much pressure it would take for this blade to actually separate the skin molecules holding it back from the blood and muscle inside". Obviously if he were to add a sliding motion it would divide his fingerprints, but if he were just to push gently downward, evenly, like he is right now...

- 2 -

Today is the first day of Will's new job. He's clean-cut, dressed in a tie, smelling crisp, and barely recognizable as the slouch in the mud puddle.
He's picked himself up a job in a financial consulting company. They advise banks and credit unions on how to make their investments. He has a business degree. Studied something else in college, tried to work for a bit, then went back to graduate school and lived the life of a hermit, finishing the program in half the regular time. Blazing. Picked up some habits in that time, like a penchant for straight tequila and cubes of aloe vera, dripping with juice.
Anyway today is the first day of the job. He's met the president, he's met the personnel lady. Had several interviews, impressed them with his knowledge and his focus. "Here's your desk, Will". "Great. Thanks a lot". "This is your neighbor, Jason Brigman". "Pleasure to meet you". "Jason can show you the ropes on the computer filing system". "Fine, thanks". "Good to have you aboard". "Lovely to be here".
So Jason pulls up a chair. Someone passes by & says hi to him.
A woman.
Will suffers a moment of blood poisoning. This pretty woman passes by and flashes a friendly smile, says nothing but "Hi" to Jason in a cheery way and glances once at Mr. Will Geist just to see who this new face is. She doesn't stop, because they are busy and she is busy too.
Jason starts talking about the computer. A moment later Will is listening to him again.
At the filling station. The refreshment station, that is. Will is here to see what the vending machines have to offer. He'd like a drink; he's here to see what there is available: coffee, tea bags, soda pops. V-8 juice. Two quarters swishing back and forth over each other in his fingers. If you do this fast enough, it looks like you've got three. Clever little magic trick.
He looks out the window, too. Tall building, a floor somewhere in the teens, downtown looking out at other tall buildings. Just like the big town. It is the big town, in fact. A big town.
The door opens. Well what do you know about that, it's that attractive young lady who went by earlier today. She's coming in with a coffee mug.
"Hi," she says to him, in exactly that same cheery friendly way.
He smiles. "Hi," he says back.
She takes an herbal tea bag and tears it open. Now she's about to introduce herself. Will can tell his blood's about to get poisoned again. There's no helping it. Blood poisoning is a vile and ugly disease; there's no recourse, no remedy. Unless you want to completely change your blood supply, like Keith Richards has done twice in his life, blood so poisoned by heroin like it was. The man lived on heroin, and his blood got so choked by the chemistry that he was like a storm drain in a major city after a rainstorm. Pour the stuff out, fill 'er up with a brand new load, safety-sealed from the factory for your protection, freshness guaranteed.
"Are you new?" she asks.
"Fresh out of the box," he answers, with a minor ironic smile.
"They just cut off my tags at the front door."
Yes, she recognizes the cleverness in his quip. She answers with a half smile of her own. "Still wet behind the ears, eh?" she quips back at him.
He reaches up and checks. Pretends to flick a bead of moisture from his fingertip. His fingers snap loudly as they flop together, tossing that large drop away. Tee-hee.
She goes to the tap beside the tap, the one that says "190&176; steaming hot water," and fills up her mug over the tea bag.
"What's your name?" she asks.
"Will Geist."
"Welcome to the company."
"Thank you. And you are?"
"Cassia Cooper."
"Accounts reviewing."
"That's right," she says. He already knows.
How wretched. He's already checked her out, and now she knows he's interested. Well, that's information for your little file, Ca