Flash, Then Gone
by Matt McGee
Gordon thanks God his brother turned him into a hockey fan. Had he not gone to Staples Center, he’d still think The Aura was his enemy.
His first seizure came at age eight. Doctors dismissed it as childhood epilepsy. He was given medication. When he stopped taking the pills, The Aura began.
It begins at the bridge of the nose and radiates out. His hearing dims. Severe déjà vu begins. Then, the visions. If he’s not careful a seizure follows. A quick pop of a pill stops that runaway train.
His mother’s solution was for him to rub his nose as if he had brain freeze. Then one night The Aura started while he was in bed. Gordon let it happen.
His mother dragged him to the doctor one rainy day, wanting answers. The doctor strode into the room all cheery bedside manner and nodded at the rain, gushing away.
“Nice day for ducks, huh?”
His mother nodded.
“You outta know, being a quack.”
The next doctor prescribed Phenobarbital. The Aura retreated. Gordon spent the summer filling the gap with girls and an old car that chugged carbon monoxide. It wasn’t the same.
STAPLES CENTER, LOS ANGELES
Then his brother invited him to the Kings/Blackhawks game in 2009. He bought a $40 beer. Gordon had a doubly-large Coke. After warm-ups and Mia’s National Anthem the puck dropped.
Gordon soon felt tired and weak. Then, The Aura returned. He’d never seen guys skate above the ice before. Anze Kopitar scored 31 goals that night and he cheered every one.
It was his brother who noticed the lights. In the off-season, the press had installed high-intensity lights. Photographers could take clear, brilliant photos.
His brother asked Gordon why he was cheering the referees.
“Oh my God don’t you see the way their stripes wave? It’s like waves if you float over the ocean. Wave, swoop! Gone. Swoop! Gone!”
An usher was called. Gordon fought them George Parros style. The last thing he remembers was being held face-down on the backseat of a taxi, and that it tasted nothing like snozzberries.
TD GARDEN, BOSTON
Assuming Staples would never let him back Gordon booked a flight, hotel, and on a snowy January night he landed in Boston and took a cab to TD Garden. Gordon scalped a ticket, grabbed a giant Coke and settled in.
The flashing began. Tingling started around the bridge of his nose. Soon there was Zdeno Chara, all nine hundred feet of him, his helmet scraping the roof of the Garden while Milan Lucic knocked someone in a red jersey thru the glass. The guy shot fifteen rows up into an empty seat. Gordon wanted to get the guy a hot dog and a Coke but the usher wouldn’t let him go down a section. Ushers fucking blow.
A man with a beige suit and a nametag that said Rick assured Gordon he was going to be OK. He called into a radio for an EMT. Gordon told him to mind his own business and didn’t he have any relatives with beautiful disabilities that made them happy? Shame on Rick. Shame on you.
Rick offered a refund. Gordon took off running. He and two guys in windbreakers dragged him out. Rick pulled Gordon’s hotel key from his pocket, showed it to the cab driver, gave the driver a twenty and slammed the door. The Aura wore off.
Gordon needed a new plan. And a personal assistant.
THE BUS STOP
Gordon visited seven NHL rinks in 2011, spending thousands on travel. He was on the Jumbo Tron in Toronto as the crazy dancing guy. When the Playoffs ended, he hit financial rock bottom. He was on a bus bench, the May sky growing dull, leaned forward, elbows on his knees.
The Aura began. Gordon looked up; the sun’s powerful glare flashed off the windows of passing cars. God loved him. Half an hour, twice a day he’d sit with hobos. Then all he’d feel was tired.
At home he’d be asleep in minutes. The Aura’s downside is the headache. It’s worth it, Gordon thinks, to see Pam Dawber riding a giant candy cane thru space.
Gordon sat down with a hamburger to read a book. He was 167 pages in, totally engaged. Even the obnoxious screeching of a group of nearby teenagers didn’t deter his focus.
Then came a bright flash. One of the kids had a camera flash from photography class. He repeatedly hit the test button. Girls at his table giggled, pretending to be caught by the Paparazzi.
The next day Gordon visited the camera store. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t thought of it before.
His brother, having read Gordon’s Facebook, asked why he’d been in Tampa Bay.
“Bolts were playing the Stars.”
“You don’t like either of those teams.”
He told him about the lights. The Aura.
“Isn’t that the thing Mom used to try and protect you from?”
“Don’t you have seizures afterward?”
“Not if you play your cards right.”
He crunched his brow. “Don’t you want to be normal?”
“I don’t want to live in fear.”
Gordon added: “Don’t you want to be sitting in this Taco Bell, see that neon sign in the window and suddenly be a particle of gas floating through the pink tube?”
“Then I’m sorry you don’t understand. It’s wonderful. I used to be afraid of my body collapsing under me but now, I see the beauty of what I’ve been given.”
His brother stood, walked abruptly away, huffing the way only an adult who fully believes their commitment to responsibility gives them the right to be condescending. It’s fine, Gordon thought, I understand.
He stared at the little puddle left by the frost from his brother’s soda. When he tapped it, the sunlight flickered thru and soon, The Aura began. As his brother made his way to his truck, Gordon saw rocket boosters kick in and take his brother away, far over the hills, until he was just a dot disappearing into the ether.
Matt McGee is a writer in Thousand Oaks, CA who has lived with epilepsy since childhood. It doesn’t stop him from playing hockey and drinking copious amounts of caffeinated beverages.