FLAT LINE: the road

flatline
On February 20, 1990 Terri Schiavo collapsed in the hallway of her home and slipped into an unconscious state from which she would never recover. For 15 years a battle consumed the life of her family and friends. Her husband believed it was Terri’s wish to die with dignity and not remain connected to a feeding tube, of which it was the only way for her to live. Her parents thought otherwise. They believed that Terri was conscious of the life she was now living and believed there was promise of recovery, although all medical tests proved to be contrary. After rising through the court system, through congress and even touching the president himself, the courts decided since she could not communicate, and since her husband was her guardian, he had the right to decide her fate. On March 24, 2005 the feeding tube was removed. It would be seven days later before Terri Schiavo flat lined and eventually laid to rest.

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from San Jose California
B. Lewis with Strange Things

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FLAT LINE the road
written & edited by Kendall F. Person

3:15 p.m. Rosalyn had but a few minutes to make it inside the bank, conduct her transaction, then race across the street and two blocks over to make her 3:35 bus. On any given day, she would not mind waiting for a later bus, but not today, for her brother was returning from his second tour of duty from a long since forgotten war. She had not seen him in over two years, and could hardly wait to lay eyes upon him, and her hope was, that he was in one piece. She was relieved upon arrival to see there were no lines, in fact, only one person stood awaiting to be seen.

3:22  Rosi was next, but the line had stalled. She looked at her phone, 13 minutes was enough, if only they would finish with him. She began to stress, although there was no reason to, her brother would be there rather she caught the 3:35 or the 4:05. But she wanted to arrive before he made it home, for no reason, just because, it is how she planned it in her mind. She and Nathan, her brother had not grown up very close, but with him gone and in harms way, she felt closer and wanted to make up for all of those years, that they had argued and fought away. But the man in front of her had plans of his own, which included robbing the bank.

3:28 Joshua Taylor was a desperate man. A hard knock life of his own making, and robbing a bank seemed like his only way out. The bag of money was in the teller’s hand, but sirens could be heard in the distance, and he knew the teller had foiled his perfect plan. He flashed the gun above his head, shouted obscenities and threatened to pull the trigger if the teller did not put the money in his hand. She did as she was told, and everyone hit the floor accept Rosi, who was caught in a daydream. Joshua’s force pulled her back into this world, turned her around with a gun in her back, which held the security at bay. Sirens, now closer, plans had to change. Joshua did not plan for a hostage, but now he had one to take. Car across the street and two blocks over, he raced down the block yelling “Get out of my fuckin way!” with Rosi his shield and the ill-gotten gains, his big payday.

3:35 p.m. Arnold was a good driver. Took the safety of his passengers as seriously as he took his own. Never sped, or wove between traffic, yet almost always managed to reach each stop on time. He had no idea what made him pick up his phone, something he had never done while driving his car, let alone the city bus. When he answered, it was his wife with a grocery list. He hung up immediately after realizing what he did. The distraction lasted only seconds, but seconds was all it took.

3:34 The police were closing in from all sides and there was no escape. But for Joshua there was no turning back, either way he was trapped. He spotted his car across the street and ushered his hostage forward, as she gave him a false sense of security. When they reached the car he shouted for her to “Get in!” Rosi finally aware of her dire straits, decided to disobey, and instead she fled, the other way. He chased after her as the clock hit 3:35. Arnold, on time as usual, but distracted and did not see him in the road, and Joshua had his own distractions, and never saw the bus coming. He flew straight up in the air, than landed hard on his back. He was fully conscious as he lay there, but felt no pain for the fall had severed his spinal cord. The gun went off when it hit the ground, and a bullet exploded from its chamber.  Rosi had escaped her captor and avoided being hit by the bus. But her luck would run out as the live ammo ricocheted off the ground and shot directly into her skull.

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“From the moment we’re born,
death is our final destination.
Only the date and time
of our arrival is unknown.”
― Tess Gerritsen, Life Support

What is the meaning of life? It is an odd question, one that defies a right or wrong. One that means everything to some and nothing to others. One that philosophers discuss and theologians dissect and individuals ponder and murderers neglect and mothers rejoice in and daredevils take for granted. Some fight for it and some wish they never had it and end it themselves. What is the meaning of life? Is it to grow old and raise a family? Is it to become rich and famous or is it to give praise to reach the afterlife? How do we decide if a life is worth living or one that should be put to death?  How do we know when our life is complete, when the game is over and it is time to sleep? How can we ever know if we have fulfilled our life-plan, if there ever existed one to begin with. Some ponder some do not give the question any thought. No right or wrong. But does the same hold true, when we are called upon to decide the meaning of someone else’s life?

life support

Dr. Jack Kevorkian, also known as Dr. Death became the nation’s self-proclaimed euthanasia expert, even advertising in Detroit newspapers as a death counselor. It is believed he assisted with over 130 suicides, but each patient or client ( I am not sure of the proper term) would have to press the button to administer the drug or gas that sealed their fate. Terminally ill patients, whose bodies were racked with pain, were his initial clients, but somewhere along the way it appeared he was playing God. He would defy his own thesis, of a patient needing to be in their right mind, by bypassing counsel with a psychiatrist, often assisting with their deaths, less than 24 hours after he was called. He would eventually be convicted of second-degree murder and imprisoned for his crime, but it is important to note, that his services where initially acquired by each of the patients, for it was their wish to end their life, only seeking him out for support.

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2:35 a.m. Two armed guards stood outside of Joshua’s hospital door. However, none were needed for he was not going anywhere, but his screams at his diagnosis were enough to drive a man insane. He was told by the doctors of the injury to his spine, one from which he would never recover, and had loss full use of his extremities below the neck. Joshua screamed that he did not want to live. To kill him now and end his terrible life of misery. But Joshua was not terminal and no such demand could be filled.

One floor down and four rooms over, Roslyn’s brother collapsed when he heard the news. His sister was unresponsive to every test they performed. Her heart was beating and she had a pulse, but no blood flowed to the brain. Still wearing his uniform, and aware that his sister needed him to be strong, Nathan collected himself and stood proud and stoic and asked if anything could be done. The doctor responded “We’ll run a few more tests and monitor her throughout the night, but I’m afraid the inevitable will have to be accepted, the damage to her brain will leave her in a vegetative state and dependent on life support.

the conclusion Flat Line the driver Now Playing 

8 comments

  1. Just a thought: the value of Life (in general) is in evolving the capacity for ever more marvelous relationships. The meaning of my life (specifically) seems to be found in the affirmations of those I relate to.

    It’s nice that we get more than one chance to get it right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ironically interwoven story, and an interesting subject you cover. I have also been present at an ‘ordered’ death, when the family doctor ordered my mother to stop giving my father water as his swallow reflex had finally gone the way all things usually go with Alzheimer’s, and the water had a 50/50 chance of going in his stomach or his lungs. Indeed a feeding tube would have kept him alive, but why? It was the right thing to do.

    Liked by 1 person

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