He’d heard that phrase all his life, but never thought much about what it might mean. Maybe he might’ve been near it a few times, but never been really right in it.
If this were the lurch, he thought, it’s not as all as I might have pictured it.
If I’d bothered to think about it at all, given the contexts in which I’ve heard it, I’d see it maybe as a kind of big swing. This swing takes you out over the Grand Canyon, each time carrying you farther, and each time the chains holding the swing weaken a bit, begin to separate from each other at the link seams.
So would the chain break and send you plummeting to your death?
Again, he thought about context. One time his mother, given to dramatics and hyperbole anyway, had told him he’d left her in the lurch when he said he’d pick her up at the airport but forgot. After she called him at work, he’d gone out to the Daniel K. Inoue International Airport and retrieved her. So even though she might have felt as if she’d been left in the lurch, there was no real harm done. She hadn’t died or even been injured. Just inconvenienced. A lot, according to her, but nothing fatal.
But what if people who threw that line around didn’t really know what the lurch was to begin with? Like him. Maybe they were using it without any kind of authority to do so, no right to assume they were there when, who knows, they might not have even been close.
The thought of a huge black hole sitting right in the center of this room flashed through his mind. He laughed again.
But I really don’t want to head for the center and find out that’s the case. In the lurch and then death by a fatal fall.
It was enough that he knew the perimeter of this round room was safe, no need to explore the middle.
The middle of the lurch. The “r” in the center of the word lurch. Huh? he said aloud. “What?”
Now he realized he was feverish. He wiped his forehead on his sleeve. Chills. He had them. Damn. The flu? No wonder my mind is wandering.
Reaching in the pocket of his aloha shirt, he found nothing. He stood up and his head pounded. He was sick all right.
He felt in his front and his back pants pockets. Someone had removed everything. His phone, wallet, keys, some loose change. What else had he had with him?
I can’t recall.
They’d left him his belt and his shoestrings, however, so there was no fear of suicide. This wasn’t some kind of isolation room at the Honolulu Police Department or the State psychiatric hospital out in Kāne‘ohe.
He thought, Where was I before I woke up here? Forget the lurch. What was more important was to focus on where he was and why he might be there.