I’ve already told about Eddie waking from “You should pull the plug” status to toe-wiggling zombie…and I’ve told you about dancing with Elvis and Ed.  Since we’re back there…back in winter of 1986/87 I thought we’d go on a bit.

So it is a few months since Ed and I danced to Jail House Rock.  He has been moved from the small hospital in Santa Cruz to a rehabilitation center in Santa Clara where my parents and I live.  I’m in my third year of grad school…and busy…but my parents have completely lost it.  The reality that their son will never be the same.  Never walk.  Never communicate with the slick ease of his pre-accident self.  Never hold an important job.  Never be the man they were sure their son would be has all but crippled their ability to be with him in the manner that he needs.  He needs some thin thread to bind his old life to the new life unfolding as his swollen brain does its best to heal.

My sister lives very far away.  His friends have realized the old Ed is no more.  So it appears to be me that will be his bridge relationship between what was and what is.  I go to the facility every single day.  He is supine for weeks and then propped into a wheelchair like a sack of potatoes.  That is when our adventures begin.

I can’t stand another minute in a hospital.  I have done my time. I am getting bored and so is Ed.  So the second they tie his carcass to that wheelchair he and I escape.  We can’t drive anywhere because he is too cumbersome to transfer into a car.  So we walk.  Well, I walk and he bobbles.  I love the air and the sun and so does he.  We walk and I talk.  He listens and laughs appropriately.  This has been the story of our lives.  And now he can’t pound me when he doesn’t like what I am saying which is okay because I have no need to prove anything any longer.  I am really just happy to have him alive even as a sack of potatoes.

We are in this part of town that has lots of shady trees and apartment buildings.  We walk and walk.  I like to go to this burger place to torture him.  He cannot eat.  His swallow reflex has not returned yet. (Don’t feel bad for him, it returns with a vengeance and that sack of potatoes doubles in weight.)  So I order food and eat it.  At first he just leans against the belts that keep him upright.  He has a tube up his nose the gives him a constant drip of some white goo that keeps him alive.  But after a few weeks of this he begins to beg for food.  Real food.

I have been told he could choke and die.  I tell him that.  He says he doesn’t care.  That’s good enough for me so I start feeding him french fries.  They make him very happy.  He doesn’t die.

One gorgeous spring day we are walking around.  Ed is calm and content.  I suddenly have the feeling that maybe we have been gone too long. I have this vague memory that we might be missing an appointment or class or something.

“Eddie,” I ask, “do you have a class today?”

“I don’t know.”  I know I am writing this in a manner that makes it seem like he sounds like you and I when he speaks, but he doesn’t, and back then most of his responses sounded like when the monster in Young Frankenstein sings his one little part in “Putting on the Ritz” with Gene Wilder.

“Isn’t that orientation class on Tuesdays?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” he answers.  “What is that?”

“It is a class where they help you remember things like what day it is and stuff like that,” I say.

He laughs, “Well, if I’m not in that class, I should be.”

It is such an astute answer I decide he can blow off that class and we head for fries.

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