Feature Section 3Uncategorized

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By Milton Alex Chi

It is another sunny day in southern California. While walking down the pier I can feel the cool ocean breeze and smell the hot dogs and cotton candy. I feel thirsty all of a sudden and I crave a tall glass of ice cold orange soda. Kids are running around excited about going on the rides. Along the beach I can see people laying on their towels working on their golden California tans. Beyond the pier I see a few sail boats slowly glide across the blue ocean.

It was late 2009 when I first started to get headaches and started feeling out of sorts.

I figured it was just temporary and it would go away eventually but it did not. Then I noticed a small bump on the right side of my neck, sort of like a pimple, which I thought was strange.Image for Story

The headaches continued and the bump on the right side of my neck kept growing. I was able to feel it now like a small pea. In a few weeks it was the size of a lemon. In February 2010 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I went to the hospital the following Monday to start chemotherapy.

The first week I felt no side effects but as the treatments increased soon came nausea, vomiting, dizzy spells, joint and body aches, flu-like symptoms, etc. I could no longer work and had to apply for disability. Without work, I couldn’t pay my mortgage and bills. The bank foreclosed on the house and gave me thirty days to vacate the property. My brother lived in a two bedroom apartment so I ended up moving in with him.

Six months later I felt better. The doctor gave me a release letter to go back to work. When I called my employer I was told that my position had been eliminated. I updated my resume and asked my former bosses and co-workers if they heard of any openings. Five months later I started a new job. It was quite a commute but I was thankful to have a job nonetheless.

Then in October, 2013 they again found some tumors, this time under my right arm. A battery of tests showed that the Lymphoma had returned. I started chemotherapy again. The weekend after the last treatment I felt really sick. My head throbbed, my body ached and I had no energy. I wasn’t sure what it was. I drove myself to the hospital and checked my self in; I had a fever of 108.

I was there a few days. They could not give me any antibiotics until they found what type of virus I had. The fever was not going down. They had me in a tub with ice and cold blankets; in the meantime the flu turned into pneumonia. My blood pressure was really high and my body was going through shock. I was having a hard time breathing. They had no choice but to induce a coma in order to connect me to all the machines and to get oxygen to my brain and help me breathe.

While I was in the coma, they determined that I had caught the H1N1 virus; also know as “swine flu,” a human respiratory infection caused by an influenza strain that started in pigs. I was on strong antibiotics and oxygen, had an IV on my arm, a heart monitor, and a tube in my stomach where I was being fed, and a tracheotomy, as well.

My body was shutting down. The doctors were giving up and they were getting ready to unplug me from the respirator. They advised my family and friends to come and say their goodbye as they thought I would not make it through the night.

Everyone came; they made a circle around my bed and as they held hands they thanked God for my life and prayed for my health. I remember then being lifted from the bed. It was like I had wings beneath me and as they flapped they reflected a silver light with a white glow. I felt the air flowing under me as I rose.

I looked down and saw the nurses and my family around my bed. Then all of a sudden everything turned dark. My spirit returned to my body and I was back in bed. Still unconscious, I had a lot of nightmares and sweet dreams during that period. I dreamed I was walking on the Santa Monica Pier and it was a hot summer day, which was something I hadn’t done in years.

At my bedside, my brother didn’t know what to do so he called my oncologist for his opinion. He told my brother to tell the doctors that they should give me a few more days. My body was fighting. Soon the fever started to go down slowly and I improved.

A few days passed. I stabilized. Then I heard voices and I opened my eyes for the first time in weeks. I looked around. I was alone in a room; I had no idea where I was, what day it was or what time it was. I tried to move and could not. My arms where strapped to the bed and I could not speak. I was paralyzed from the neck down. I could only move my head and my eyes. The nurses came in and asked me a few questions. My family arrived and asked if I recognized everyone. All I could do was nod. They told me what had happened and that I had been in a coma for about two months.

I was told that while I was in my coma I had a lot of visitors: my family, friends, church members and co-workers. Some came to read books or the Bible and held my hand in prayer. They told me that my aunt had come to sing to me a hymn -“Because He Lives”- and that by the time she finished tears were rolling down my cheeks. She asked the nurse if she had done something wrong. The nurse said that it was a good sign; I was reacting to her singing and my blood pressure had gone down. Then the nurse asked my aunt if she could go and sing for another patient on the floor and she did.

A couple of friends created a blog for me on “Caringbridge” where they kept everyone informed of my condition. People wrote their comments on this site as well. The last time I checked there were over six thousands hits on this blog.

One of the nurses told me that I might never walk again. After a couple of weeks they sent me to another hospital with a respiratory facility where they helped me breathe on my own. I was transferred to another hospital where they provided physical therapy and speech therapy. Every time my family came to visit they would massage my legs, feet and arms trying to reactivate the nerves. I believe that the massages and prayers really helped my recovery.

Slowly I started to move my fingers, then hands, arms and feet. One day three nurses tried to help me stand from the wheelchair. My legs gave way. I was too weak. But the physical therapy continued and after a while I could move a little. The speech therapist helped me learn to speak again.

So it was that within three months, I had learned to function again as a human being.

When they saw my progress they sent me home; my insurance, they said, would no longer be covering my stay, and I could continue my physical therapy at another hospital. I was released on July 7th,2014; in a wheelchair.

I kept the physical therapy. They taught me how to walk with a cane and how to go up and down stairs. Within five months I was able to walk slowly on my own. My first trip was to Marie Calendar’s for a slice of pie.

Now I walk and talk and drive. I’m looking for a job, and, as you can see, I’m writing. I am staying with my brother until I get back on my feet again. I threw a party for my friends and family who stood by my bed.

But there is one thing left to do.

So today, the forecast calls for highs in the 90’s. I am at the Santa Monica pier. The fresh cool air brushes my face. My shoes are off so I can feel the sand between my toes. I look at the seagulls flying overhead. I will have that ice cold orange soda now.

____

Milton Alex Chi was born in El Salvador, the son of a Salvadoran mother and Chinese-immigrant father, who together ran a store and a restaurant. His family left El Salvador during that country’s civil war and he has resided in the Los Angeles area for more than 40 years. He has always wanted to write and he feels grateful and honored to be able to share his life tale in this book.
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Feature Section 3True TalesTYTT Export

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By Helen Weatherell-Bay*

I remember being really sad this day.  Sad enough to be sitting on a beach alone and crying.

This is a low point, Helen, I thought.   I am not,  and have never been, suicidal.  Homicide was always a more comfortable feeling for me.  But this day, I was just damn sad and needed a cry.   Then suddenly, all I could think was  “Get up! YOU’RE DONE.” I knew I was lying. But it was okay.

I got up and started a long walk in the hot sand back to boardwalk.  Every step felt heavy and uncomfortable.  I reached the boardwalk before the tears returned.  As I leaned up against a tree to wipe my feet, I heard a voice.

“That is the saddest face on a pretty girl that I have ever seen. Why?”

He was a handsome, cherubic, elderly man—well dressed and even using a cane.

“My name is Stanley Sadowsky—and who are you?”

I was thinking “Who am I? I am a Lifetime Channel Movie!!”  Life is just not like this.  Bad days are not resolved by cheery little Jewish saviors that come in little cuddly old-man packages and hug away dreary with one liners that make you wish you had a bat mitzvah.

“I’m not having the best day,” I said.  “Just walking back to my hotel.”

I am now sucking back every potential feeling of dread, fear, loneliness and just plain loss of will to live … because clearly Stan’s cataracts couldn’t hide my pain. I’m pathetic,  and my brave front did not fool him.  He continued.

“Okay!! Good, let’s walk together than—you sound like you have a good story to tell. So tell me … why the tears?”

“I caught my husband cheating on me … well, not really my husband, but my boyfriend and…well…but we have a child together and he has two children as well and ummm, they are two little girls whose mother had died in a car accident and… anyway, we lived together for nine years … along with my son and daughter from my previous marriage.”

I am now feeling like some backwoods trailer trash—banjo and all. I am sure Stan is about to advise me that I should be grateful that I am no longer incarcerated and life out of the joint has so much to offer.

“Oh my dear!  How sad! So you were the mommy…to ALL five of these children?  And he left you anyway?” was his reply.  Honest to God—that’s what he said. He got me.  In one sentence I had found my soul mate—well, soul mate from a past life. Life was making more sense to me at that moment and I was rolling with it.

But all I could say was  “I am having a hard time right now.”  I really did not want to cry any more that day. I swallowed every tear as if it were my favorite Dim Sum.  Not now, I thought.   I changed the subject.

“How about you Stan? “ I asked,    “What’s your story? Why did I find you walking this boardwalk?”  This was a sincere question regardless of my motives.  As I said, I really don’t believe in the airy-fairy crap—but still.

“Hah!”  Stan chuckled.  “It is simple Helen.”

Stan stopped walking just then and looked at me.  I needed this now; I needed something simple to explain it all.  I wanted to drink the Kool-Aid, smoke the pipe in a sweat lodge, and believe that that goddamn book really had The Secret.  I looked at Stan for a long while before he said:  “My wife, Faye and I walked nearly every night of our life together — 53 years we did this.  And the last 10 years were on this very boardwalk.”

“Really?”  I replied, knowing she had passed.  Maybe this was it, I thought.  It’s that simple.  I felt a bright light coming on.  It’s loyalty. Really—just loyalty.  Not the hot body, fun sex and crazy nights that you had with this horrid man who left you—but loyalty.   Real loyalty.  Real love.  Stan continued.

“Yes,   Rose [FAYE?]and I were married for 53 years…we had a good life and three beautiful children.   We moved here to  Santa Barbara when I retired. We liked to walk and talk every evening….”   He paused, but I knew he had more to say.

“I miss her every day. Every day.”

And so it was.  I found some meaning in my pain.

Just as Stan and I were approaching the corner that I needed to cross the highway to get to my hotel, I was feeling as if this man could be my friend for the rest of my life—or the rest of his. In any case, I turned to him and said, “Well, Stan, this is where I need to cross the street.” I wanted to race across the highway without losing this feeling—I needed it so.

Stan smiled and said, “Oh Helen, okay.  Can I give you a hug?”

“Of course,” I said, pushing my arms out, to gather a little more happiness from this day.

Stan put his arms around me and kissed my cheek.  I stopped myself from crying again.   Stan’s arms were so tight that it was a few seconds before I noticed that they had moved near my boobs.  When I realized this, I reassured myself that he was just trying to steady himself as he said goodbye to me.  Then Stan looked up at me and whispered…

“ Oh my, you feel so good.” I was still certain that I misunderstood and replied,

“So do you, Stan.”

“I like holding your hot tits,” I heard him say in my ear.  I was both shocked and mildly turned on. Come on, I thought, this could never happen again, now that I’d been dumped.

I came to my senses and said, “Okay, Stan, I really need to cross the street and get back to my hotel,” as I pulled his crippled hands off my hot tits and pushed the button to cross the street.

“Really?” he asked.

“Oh yes, Stan, really,” I said, as I kissed his bald head.  “Maybe we will meet again on the boardwalk.” I began to have thoughts of choking this ancient little pervert if he carried on like this.

“Goodbye, Helen,” was all he said.

The light changed and the green “Go” sign to cross came up just before my thoughts of choking turned to something much more dark.  I ran across the street while looking back at him.   I suddenly began to laugh—really laugh out loud.  Life is so absurd, I thought, as I neared the center of the highway.

As I was shaking my head, I could hear a strange “tweeting” sound.   This sound was meant to notify the blind to let them know it was safe to go to the other side of the street.  I knew this because it was posted on the crosswalks. I could have used just that kind of warning that day, if not my entire life.  I wondered if it would have made any difference. When I finally crossed the road, I knew. Probably not.

__________

Shortly after her break-up, Helen Weatherell-Bay sold her house and most of her worldly goods and bought a bar in Mexico–near the beach.  When not mixing margaritas or frying chicken wings, she enjoys the surf, sun and occasionally documenting her new and bizarre life on her Apple laptop.   Contact her at  helenbaysandbar@gmail.com

 

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Feature Section 3Uncategorized

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By Richard Zamora

I was feeling a little car sick as we drove to the Toy-R-Us. A cool chill traveled through my spine.  I pictured myself gliding through the wind, my body rushing against the opposing breeze. I’d been waiting for this for a very long time. Finally, I was going to get my new bike. We pulled up to the Toy-R-Us parking lot trying to find a spot near the entrance.

“You happy?” he asked, with his strong Mexican accent.

“Yeah I’m happy.” I said, actually feeling somewhat joyful for once. We parked and got out the car; I was jumping up and down like a pogo stick.

“Relax.” he said, as he pulled me towards him.

“Come on let’ go!” I said, trying to break free from his grasp. I ran up to an employee.

“Oh, go down aisle nine and when you get there make a right. You can’t miss it.”

I began to walk down the aisle, scoping out the other toys in the store. I made a right and there it was. Bike heaven. They had almost every brand — from Haros to Mongooses; it was quite spectacular.

Cual quieres?”

“That one,” I said, pointing to a Next. It had a shiny, navy blue coat. It came with pegs and a bottle holder. It was perfect.

“Get it,” he said.

I grabbed it and began to walk it to the shortest line. A whole bunch of kids waited; some had action figures, others had scooters. I was standing proud with my new bike. Finally, it was our turn to pay. The total cost was $130.00 and it was all worth it.

We went home. I couldn’t wait to show off my new bike to my friend, Kyle. We arrived and I rode my Next to Kyle’s house. I knocked, hoping he’d answer so we could cruise. His sexy-ass sister opened the door.

“Hey,” I said, eyeing her up and down.

“Hey, how you been?” she asked.

“Good. Is Kyle here?”

“Yeah, he’s inside. Kyle!”

“What?” he moaned.

“Richards here.”

Kyle ran to the door.

“What’s up?” I said, holding my bike.

“That’s your new bike?” he asked, surprised.

“Yeah, you wanna go riding?” I asked, taunting him by pretending my bike was a motorcycle and I was revving my engine with my hands.

“Hell, yeah. Let’s ride.”

I waited till my friend mounted his bicycle. It felt like adrenaline was ready to erupt from within my body.

“Ready. Set. Go!” I yelled, pedaling with full throttle.

“Cheater!” Kyle said.

“Bite me!”

The race began. I was in the lead, smashing and drifting around corners. Kyle was riding on my left side and there was a speed bump approaching. I hit the speed bump and popped an Ollie. As I was soaring in the air, I looked back at Kyle and I saw him in the air as well. I thought to myself, “We must be pros, doing shit like this.”

“I won!” I said.

“No fair. You had a head start.”

“Nuh huh.”

“Yeah huh.”

“Whatever. Let’s cruise for a bit.”

We rode for several hours until it got dark. Then we headed to his house to eat. Kyle was half American and half Asian and was about 5’6” and kinda slim. We met because his sister and my sister, they were friends. The truth was that I had a crush on his older sister, Denise, the one who answered the door earlier.

“ Hey, you guys hungry?” Denise asked.

“I’m starving,” Kyle answered.

“What about you?” I wasn’t paying much attention to what she was saying, I was more interested in her physique.

“Just a little.”

“Sit down and eat,” she said. Denise was so sexy with her long black hair, pretty brown eyes, juicy lips and her stare – man, it was hypnotizing. Anyways, we ate some orange chicken with steamed rice. It was bomb. After we grubbed, I told him I had to leave because my dad would whoop my ass if I came in late. We said our goodbyes and I rode home on my bike. It was nine o’clock and I knew he’d be waiting for me.

He was yelling at my brother. He stood six feet tall, with a husky physique and stomped when he walked. Screaming was normal for him, a trait he and my grandmother shared, and he was my father.

Onde estabas?” he asked, staring me down with his dark, soul-piercing eyes.

“Outside, riding my bike.”

At that moment I was expecting to get hit. Usually my brother would get it first. The hellion would beat him so bad, he would have to wear long sleeves and pants for days. If my mother got in the way, she was beaten as well. I grew to hate the son of a bitch.

“I told you nine o’clock!”

“Sorry,” I said, sensing an evil vibe.

“I don’t give a fuck! You listen to me!” he said, taking off his leather cowboy belt. I was scared, but I knew my mother was horrified because she knew what was about to happen.

“Come over here!” he said, smacking his belt on the wall. If I didn’t come the beating would be ever more severe. The despair combusted and I began to tear.

“Leave him alone!” yelled Tony, my brother.

“Shut the fuck up!”

He began to strike my brother with the metal part of the belt. It made a sound louder than thunder. I dropped my bike and ran towards my mom but he intercepted me, grabbed my right forearm and with his free hand he started whipping me with the belt, slashing my body.

The wounds instantly swelled up. I looked at my brother, watching him explode with rage.

“Fuck you!” my brother hollered as he kicked my father in the balls. My mom grabbed the phone and called the police but I knew the cops wouldn’t understand her broken English.

“Please my sons, help!” That’s the last thing she said before he snatched the phone from her hand. Now my mom was getting beat. Me and my brother tried to stop him but he overpowered us.

Then all of a sudden I heard sirens and in seconds they kicked down the door and rushed in. They caught him red-handed.

“Freeze. Put your hands in the air!” the officer said, pointing a Glock 9 directly at my dad’s forehead.

He didn’t listen to their command so they tackled him to the floor. He tried to resist but he was no match for the brute policeman.

They arrested him and that was the last we saw of him.

____

Richard Zamora is a senior at Spring Valley High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. After graduation, he plans on attending culinary school to fulfill his goal of becoming a chef.

 

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