He felt throbbing around his right eye and forehead. It was still black however -- no one had yet turned on the lights and his head was painfully cold. He was surprised to realize that he was still alive. He must have slayed the wasp after all.
He heard his mother’s voice, taught and tense. As he tried to open his eyes there was something blocking his vision. He could see shards of light through slits, but his eyelids were heavy. He felt his mother’s firm grip on his left arm; squeezing, squeezing, tighter and tighter, and then, blissful release.
“Blood pressure’s high,” said a deep voice that he recognized. Dr. Morton.
“What the hell was that?” Said his mother.
“Did I kill it?” Harris said, now able to open his left eye. “Did I get the giant wasp?”
His mother stood there, staring down at him, her painted mouth pursed so tight it almost disappeared. As usual, she wore her signature Channel suit, this one pink and gold – not a knock-off, but the real thing. It matched her now coloured, light auburn hair. Slung over one arm was a coral pink Chanel purse which coordinated with her ivory and coral Chanel pumps. Even though he could only see out of one eye, it was hard to miss the controlled hostility that lurked behind her green eyes. “Giant wasp? Giant WASP?” His mother repeated. “You ran into the umpire’s chair while chasing a butterfly with a tennis racket. What were you doing?”
“Dr. Morton,” said Harris quickly looking to the other side of the bench for some support, moral or otherwise. “I’m so glad you’re here. Did you come to watch me fight? Can you please tell my mother that I just managed to save the world from a giant wasp?” He reached up to touch his face and found that the biting cold he was feeling from his forehead to his eye was an icepack.
“I wouldn’t remove that if I were you,” said Dr. Morton. “You gave yourself a pretty nasty bump when you rammed into the chair.”
Harris ignored him, and tried to sit up. “What happened? I thought I slayed the wasp.” said Harris.
“Were you high?” said his mother. He could hear her heels clacking across the floor at a brisk pace. As he became more aware of his surroundings he could feel the hard surface digging into his spine and realized he must be lying on one of the benches in the locker room. He looked at the ceiling through his one good eye and saw the fluorescent lights glaring down at him. Dr. Morton came into view.
“Stay,” said Dr. Morton. He put his hand on the ice pack. “You want to try to control the swelling as much as possible.” To Harris Dr. Morton had always looked to be in his early sixties for as long as he’d known him. He was medium height with a full head of salt and pepper hair, in good shape, having a solid body type. He’d been Harris’ sports doctor ever since he’d moved back to Santa Barbara, six years earlier, two years after he’d retired. It was good to see a familiar face, someone who might possibly take his side and protect him from Carolyn Tucker, his mother and often, his most vocal critic.
“I told you to come by my office to get a steroid shot. What did you take?” Dr. Morton asked. Unlike his mother, he was not being accusatory, but rather, there was concern in his voice.
“What do you mean?”
“Harris, you were hallucinating. What did you take?”
“Just some of those new pills you gave me if my knees ever gave me trouble. They worked great.”
“Dilaudid.” He nodded. “I shouldn’t have changed your prescription. It looks like you had a bad reaction to them.”
“A bad reaction?” His mother said through gritted teeth. Then she said, “Do you have any idea of what you’ve just done? You have single handedly ruined the event!” Her eyes seared into Harris’, her face grew redder than a tomato, which wasn’t very flattering on a woman with auburn hair and lightly freckled skin. At this moment, Harris thought as he brought his mother into focus, she actually looked her full 62 years. It was the rage she was showing -- it seemed to emphasize her wrinkles. He didn’t know what to say, although that was nothing new; he rarely knew what to say to her.
“Good news!” said a voice from behind Harris’ head. He recognized it as that of Lindsay’s. She came up beside Carolyn and gave Harris a brief, almost distasteful look, then turned to Carolyn. Even in this crisis he couldn’t help notice that not a strand of her straight, blonde-streaked hair was out of place. The cynic in him wondered how many cans of hair spray she went through per day. “It turns out Pete Sampras is in the audience. He’s agreed to take Harris’ place. It will actually make the event even better.” She gave Harris a sidewise glance, “So I guess I can thank you for once again being an idiot.”
“Thank God,” said Carolyn. “Good work Lindsay.” Then she looked at Harris. “It might save the event, but it’s ruined everything else.”
“Honestly Harris, what were you doing out there?” asked Lindsay.
“Saving humanity from the onslaught of giant killer wasps, what did it look like I was doing?”
“Crashing into an umpire’s chair.” She shook her head and then looked at him again. “You looked ridiculous.”
“You’re going to have to go to the hospital,” said Dr. Morton. “I want to make sure you don’t have a concussion, I’ve already called ahead, they’re expecting you.” He looked down at Harris. “Lucky thing your mother sent me a ticket to the event.” He looked at Harris with concern. “Your heart is still racing and your blood pressure is high.” He held up his hand. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
“One,” said Harris.
“Okay, good, at least your vision’s back to normal.”
“Harris, this is the last time I’m bailing you out,” his mother hissed between gritted teeth, ignoring the doctor. “You have completely ruined my event. You knew I was announcing my state senate candidacy today, and now, I will look like the laughing stock in front of everyone just because you’re my son.”
“But the hospital campaign will still be all right, won’t it mother?”
She just scoffed. “Who cares about the hospital fund. As of this moment, you are no longer my son.”
“I told you I didn’t want to play, but you wouldn’t listen to me—“
“Come on Lindsay, we have an event to run,” she said, ignoring Harris’ words.
Before Lindsay followed Carolyn out, she leaned over Harris and looked down at him. “We’re through. As soon as you’re out of the hospital, I want you to pack your bags and get out. You’ve ruined everything.” She stormed out after Carolyn, only to turn at the last minute and look over her shoulder, “Oh, and I’m keeping the condo.” The clacking noise of two sets of heels receded as the doctor and Harris just looked at each other without saying anything.
Harris put the icepack back on his head which was now throbbing. “Can you believe it? My girlfriend is siding with my mother. Doc, I didn’t do it on purpose, I just wanted to make sure I couldn’t feel the scraping and heat in my knees the way I do every time I play. I don’t need to feel that pain anymore.”
“That was pretty harsh,” agreed Dr. Morton.
“She’ll come around in a few days,” said Harris.
“Who? Your mother or your girlfriend?”
It was sometimes hard to distinguish between the two of them. “Both, I guess.”
The doctor looked down at Harris for a minute and put his hand just below his right eye. “Do you take a lot of painkillers?”
Harris shook his head, “Nah. Just when I play tennis. The pain in the knees is pretty intense and I usually suffer through it, but I was up against Win this time and I just didn’t want to make a fool out of myself.” He sighed and laughed a bit as he thought about his mother’s description of what he’d done. A butterfly. “I guess that ship sailed.”
The doctor patted his shoulder, “I guess so.”
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