TWENTY-FIVE - A Change of Heart

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January 9th, Wednesday

I didn't sleep much last night, and when I did, I had horrific dreams about those damn demon sculptures. In the worst dream, the biggest one—the one in the garden—came to life and followed me home, skulking along in the shadows of the trees. It kept throwing tins of beeswax at my head and made these strange Sasquatch-like growls (not that I actually know what a Sasquatch sounds like, but if they're real, I bet they sound like the noises my dream demon made).

I was dreading going back there this morning, but I knew I couldn't bail—I'd look like a total pussy in the eyes of my classmates.

Now, don't think I'm a freak or anything, but I ran the whole thing past Peterson last night. I figured, seeing as how he, or raccoons in general, are most likely my spirit animal, then maybe I ought to listen to some hardcore totemic wisdom from the little guy. So, I sat in front of him, removed his aviators, and told him the whole story. I wasn't expecting him to speak or animate in any way, of course, but I did think that I might receive a strong intuitive hit or have an epiphany of some sort. And I did! I remembered that racoon energy (or medicine, as the woo-woos like to call It) is a symbol of adaptability, flexibility, exploring and adventure. And so, I knew right then and there that I was going to have to suck it up and finish my stint at Clyde's, and that if I did, maybe some good would come of the whole thing.

Turns out I was right. Because when I got there today, I found Clyde lying on his workshop floor, his demons bubble-wrapped- three of them already inside the wooden crates they were going to be shipped in.

I thought he had fallen, and told him he should have waited for my arrival before lifting those dudes around, but he just winced and said he didn't think I would come back, after yesterday.

He hadn't fallen; he'd had a heart attack. The reason I knew this was because I took first aid at my old school, and I knew when I saw how grey Clyde was, and how he said his left arm hurt so bad and he couldn't catch his breath, well, I knew that it was his heart. So, I phoned for help, ran to The Silver Bullet, found a bottle of aspirin, and gave Clyde two tablets. The ambulance came about three minutes later.

The tall, skinny EMT asked me how I knew about aspirin. I told him about my St. John's first aid course, and he said, good job.

When they were loading Clyde in, Clyde reached out and grabbed my wrist with his hand and said, "Thanks a lot, kid. You're a good lad. And I think you saved my life."

I told him I had just done what anyone would have done, but still, he managed a smile and told me that he would have hated to die on the floor of his workshop surrounded by all those horny demons. I laughed pretty hard when he said that, but the EMTs just kind of looked super uncomfortable and quickly strapped a blood pressure cuff to Clyde's arm.

Dad was noticeably stoked when I told him the story, and after dinner, when he phoned the hospital on Jericho Island (there are five islands in this little archipelago, and the biggest one--Jericho-- is where the hospital is), they told him Clyde was doing great and would be getting a stunt or a stint or something put in to help his arteries do their arterial thing, so that was good to hear.

When I wrote my essay tonight about my volunteer experience, I didn't write about all the stuff I thought I'd be writing about; stuff like types of wood or chip carving techniques or tool safety. Instead, I wrote about how sometimes the thing that matters the most—the most valuable lesson you learn—is that people matter, even if you don't have much in common. And in the end, that's what's important. I still feel weird about waxing those sculptures yesterday, but I don't feel weird about Clyde. In fact, I am going to make it my business to visit the old guy from time to time. I think he might be lonely.

Ivy texted me before I went to bed to tell me that she had mastered the art of latte design with flying colours down at the diner. She could do a fern, a rose, and said she even managed to pull off a half-decent sock monkey face. (Ivy has a thing for sock monkeys, in case I haven't mentioned that.)

When I told her about my experience with Clyde, about waxing the demons, she laughed so hard her turmeric tea came out her nose—at least, that's what she said. But when I told her about his heart attack, she went all quiet and then said she thought maybe I had been sent there by an angel, to help him in his hour of need. No one ever visits him, Ivy told me. I told her Norm had been the one that sent me, and she said that angels came in all shapes and sizes, and that I should be open to "signs of the Divine," in the future. She also said I was "her hero," and while I think that hero is a huge exaggeration, it was an awfully nice thing for her to say.

On another subject altogether, I caught Dad and Misty in a full-on embrace tonight. I came out of my room to get some more chili, to see Misty sitting in Dad's lap on the couch. Neither one of them looked the slightest bit embarrassed to be caught out. In fact, Misty jumped up and came over to give me a giant bear hug. She said she thought I was a total rock star because of knowing what to do today at Clyde's, and then she hugged me again!

She smelled of patchouli, garlic bread, and Old Spice, my father's favourite cologne. Overall, it was thoroughly pleasant.

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