Stranger Things

“Try it,” she said. “What’ve you got to lose?” It was the voice of my mom at the other end of the line.

“It’s creepy and weird, and I don’t think it’ll work.”

“But if it does…” her voice trailed off, as she fantasized about me being saved from surgery and possible chemo. I knew her desperation to be able to make her only little girl better, healthy and free of the cancer, but what were the chances?

“Okay, I’ll contact Berny and see if she can squeeze me in,” I replied, “but mom, please don’t get your hopes up. I don’t have much faith in this hocus pocus. My feeling is that I have cancer because I have cancer, and traditional medicine is the only safe way to fight back against that reality.”

“Just try it, Trudy, please. It’s said that she has a gift, and I believe it. Remember Beverly? Remember Lois? Remember Tammy, and how things turned around so dramatically for her?”

“Yeah, mom, I know, but none of them had cancer!”

Every time I said it lately, the word stuck in my craw. I was still angry. Still miffed. Still a little bit unbelieving that this was happening to me.”

The day of the appointment came. I slid out of the seat of the old Buick Century and into the fitness center where Berny worked as a massage therapist for rehab patients. The place was a surprise. No crystals hanging in the windows; no incense burning when I walked in. The place was fully lit, and full of people of all ages; kids, teens, geriatrics, you name it. The waiting room was packed. It was going to be a long wait.

Berny saw me from across the waiting room, winked, and put up one finger, bending it toward her as if to indicate I should come to her table and have a seat. She touched my shoulder and I felt a prick on the heel of her palm. I jerked my hand away, as if I’d been poked with a pin, I remember. Berny just gave me that gentle stare, like she knew what was going on, but she never commented on it.

“So, Trudy, I hear your mom strong-armed into coming today.” She laughed.

“Yeah, moms can be that way,” I replied, with a crooked half-smile.

“She says you’ve seen the doctor and the prognosis is sketchy for your type of cancer, is that right?”

“Yeah, sketchy is a good word to describe it. I’m usually lucky in life, but this jackpot I could have lived without. I might not even live, period, with this thing. Who knows.” I continued, “And I don’t mean to dis you personally, but I don’t exactly share my mom’s belief that any of ‘this’ can work, for me.”

“This?” Berny replied.

“This new age medicine…this healing massage thing you do. She thinks it’s mystical and magical, or something like that.” I crossed my arms, subconsciously closing myself off to any more superstition or hurt that might try to seep through, once Berny did the magic thing she was about to do and said those mystical mantras over me. I wasn’t sure how long this was going to take, but I was sure I wasn’t totally onboard with it.

Berny asked me to relax. Ha, that was a joke. I couldn’t relax here, not with “this” about to happen. Relax? No way, it wasn’t my style…

I woke to a warm sensation. The lights were low in the room now. Only Berny was with me. She sat, rubbing my forearm and whispering my name over and over, as I came conscious.

“What time is it?” I asked.
“7:30 at night?”
“Are you kidding,” I said, incredulous. “My appointment was 11:30 this morning. Have I been asleep that long?”

“Yes,” she said, as she moved away from me and began picking up the items lying around the room, on desks and counter tops. She was cleaning up, getting ready to go home. I was still groggy and unable to get up from my sedated position.

“What did you give me?” I asked.
“Give you?”
“Yeah, you know. Dope. Drugs. Valium? Roofies?”

“I didn’t give you anything,” she replied. “You fell asleep naturally. I merely covered you and allowed your body to do what it wanted to do. You slept peacefully all afternoon.”

I was disbelieving.

“With your clients here?” I asked.

“And you continued to work while I snored?” I inquired.

She laughed. “You didn’t snore. You didn’t make a sound. You were quiet, really quiet and so out.”

“Is this normal?” I asked.
“Well, there really is no normal with these things. Each person is different. Each problem unique.”

“So that’s it? All I needed was a little sleep and now I’m cured? Of cancer?!”

“Only God knows these things,” Berny replied.

I rose. I wrapped my coat around my shoulders, then tied it around my waist. I prepared to leave, then as I went for the door, I asked, “What do I owe you?”





Original work of Lori Hoose, copyright reserved 2018




She walked in the joint with her raccoon in her arms and sat on the bench facing me.  I knew she owned the animal, knew she brought it to appointments with her, knew she was eccentric, but when she plopped down on the bench with it, here, I cringed a little; inside, where no one would notice.

“Here we go,” I thought. “Why does she have to include this beast in every conversation, bring him to every event…treat him like her baby doll?”  I was immediately on edge and resentful.