He sat, head pressed up against the glass, watching the lights begin to stream as they passed into his peripheral. Silence fogged the air between them. He motioned to say something, hiding meaning between the lines. The words never made it from his lips. He closed his eyes. Focused his thoughts. Let out a breath as the symphony drew in the lull into its grasp.
Six o’clock in the morning, feeling the drag of the day beginning to pull, he throws on the least dirty clothing he has collected on the floor. Seven inches of rain fell from the roof last night, contained to a single tin bucket he inherited from his grandmother. A pail that once rinsed off his chicken-poxed body as a child.
Three AM traffic coursing through the veins. He can’t tell what stands anymore. He drinks a cool glass of lemonade before injecting more junk into his cerebellum. Forecast calls for a freeze this summer. He calls for a fragile heart. He dials the phone number of some cheap hooker he picked up the night before and asked if she would like to see him again. Maybe off the clock. Maybe they grab a bite to eat. Maybe take in a seven o’clock show. Maybe a walk in the park. Eventually, though he regresses. Calls for a cab instead.
Four pills in the morning. Two in the afternoon. Seven if he doesn’t want to wake up the next morning. And ten if he doesn’t want to wake up at all. Side effects include drowsiness, trouble sleeping, irritation, dizzy spells, hearing voices, suicidal thoughts, implanted memories of a childhood love that never existed, migraines, remembrance of past lives, knowledge of the future, knowing the time and day of your death, seeing your grandmother who died twenty years ago sitting on the couch when you get home from work and acknowledging the timespan from the last time see saw you alive, seeing ghosts of people not yet dead, seeing ghosts of people who never existed, seeing the ghosts of pets and loved ones you haven’t thought of in years, hearing the phone ringing when no one’s called you in weeks, feeling like you’re already dead even though you can clearly feel the pulse at your temples, remembering your mortality, remembering that everyone you know and love will be dead and that you’ll outlive some of them, remembering, remembering, remembering to forget.
A week passes. Then another. Then one more.
I read my first Michael Crichton book in the sixth grade. A year or two prior, I sat transfixed on the screen as dinosaurs came to life before my eyes. So of course the first book I selected to read by the late author was Jurassic Park. It must’ve taken me a month to finish what I considered quite the tome in my misguided youth. Chapter after chapter, glued to the edge of wonder, looking up definitions of words new to me. I read on until the mass market paperback’s spine broke and pages slipped out from between the covers. Three years later, I tried my hands on a second Michael Crichton book. The choice was obvious: his follow dinosaur book, The Lost World.
Michael Crichton left the world too soon. Lymphoma took him nine years ago at the age of 66. But his legacy continues. In May, HarperCollins released Dragon Teeth, a novel Sherri Crichton describes as the “forerunner to his ‘other dinosaur story.'”
I purchased the book upon release, though I set it aside. Books published posthumously fall into a rut most of the time. Several feel lacking. But not this one. Despite its short chapter length, the 283-page story packs a punch.
The story centers around William Johnson, a Yale student finding himself in the midst of the Bone Wars. (If you haven’t read up on the Bone Wars, I suggest that you do!) Johnson’s story starts off in the company of famed paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. When Marsh’s suspicion leaves Johnson stranded on the road West, Edward Drinker Cope takes him under his wing. It is then Johnson encounters drunken soldiers, war-raging Native Americans, and the dragon teeth.
While paleontology is the focal point of the tale, Crichton treats his readers to a western tale as well. Johnson finds himself in outlaw town, Deadwood. He rides alongside famed gunfighters Morgan and Wyatt Earp. And Johnson, of course, learns early on that it’s not the destination that matters. It’s the journey to the end.
I felt like sixth grade me again. Reading and rereading passages. Not for definitions, but for the emotion Crichton poured into his craft. It took me eleven days to complete Dragon Teeth, but I didn’t want it to end. And by next year, I hope to read it again.
Until next time, book hunters. Keep on huntin’.
Side note: I’d like to acknowledge how much Marsh and Cope’s antagonistic relationship mirrored the relationship between the Jurassic Park character John Hammond and Dr. Lewis Dodgson. Also, Michael Crichton, as mentioned in the Author’s Note, took some liberties in bending the facts about historic events. Just keep it in mind that you’re not reading a true account of the Bone Wars. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t as nutty as he made it seem.
- The friend-zone doesn’t exist, you stupid fedora-wearing twat.
It came to a surprise that people (i.e. men) in their thirties still believe in the friend-zone. I’ve accepted that self-proclaimed “nice guys” and incels embrace the mythical friend-zone, but it’s disheartening that people I know are secret fedora wearers.* I’m no stranger when it comes to falling for someone who has no interest in me. I’m no stranger of having someone fall for me when I have no interest in them. Unrequited love is a real thing, after all. And it might run rampant among several guys. The problem arises when you start making up fictitious reasons why you’re not a candidate for her heart. The dreaded friend-zone lies only within the fact that you placed her in an unwarranted and unwelcome “relationship zone.” You think that being nice and proper automatically means you’re deserving a chance, but that is neither nice or proper. People are attracted to who they’re attracted to—thing is, this person just isn’t into you. And while that may change, it’s unlikely. Stop throwing yourself at every girl only to bitch when the results aren’t in your favor. Because obsession isn’t romance. It doesn’t even come close to passion.
*I own two fedoras; however, it’s been at over a decade since I wore them. It was a weird phase I was going through in college. We don’t have to go into it.
She could make me smile at a funeral. It’s a discussion we have via text message as I walk around the church. I mentioned the funeral taking place as I pass it by, deciding to change my route out of respect for the family of the deceased. Just so happens before I learned about the funeral, we were talking about the domesticated rabbits that found new freedom in the city. There’s two of them. And she jests if the funeral is for the rabbits. “No, I’m pretty sure it’s for a human.” She counters, “A human killed by rabbits?” As the conversation continues, I let it slip that she’s quite some wizard. Having the ability to make me smile with such a dark subject can be a special gift few will ever possess.
She twists my words. She boils them to the most literal sense. Several times I’ve fallen victim to her logic traps and I find myself clawing at the pit, trying a way to argue a way out; I fail each time. I lose track of time when we text. Before I come to, she’s wishing me a good night, letting me know her phone’s almost dead. When I’m self aware of the time spent texting her, the anxiety of being a bother rises from my stomach to clench my heart. Am I being too obvious?
She makes a bleak day the brightest of the year. Standing in the YA section, reading through the shelves, I feel a panic urge heat my body. A feeling I haven’t felt in quite a way. Even with New Mexico, this raw heat didn’t course through me. At a friend’s party, she accidentally touches my hand reaching for a napkin. Maybe it’s the time we’ve spent talking about all things nerdy. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting better at this being human act. Still, what goes through my mind isn’t the same thought that runs through it had someone else touched me. There isn’t a feeling of burning. There isn’t a sensation of panic. I don’t retract my hand. Maybe that’s a strange reaction not to do because I offer no sign of assisting her hand to find the napkin despite that I’m staring at both our hands.
Jeanna tells me that maybe it’s time I took a chance. Monica tells me the same. And my “wing man” seems to be doing her best to keep us together no matter the circumstance. But the mindfuck is still fresh in my head, and I don’t know if I want to let myself be that vulnerable again.