I remember all my days of being a Boy Scout (By all my days, I mean less than a few months. I smoked a bowl with my camp counselors and it didn’t go well for either of us) and in the Army (That lasted much longer than I wanted). Heat injuries were drilled into your head like a would-be predator licking its lips, hidden away in any random bush, waiting to man rape you from your favorite jogging trail. I brushed them off. Even laughed out loud a few times. After all, I was from the (now not so) great state of Texas and intense heat was just a part of summer! Now, at age 46, I have nothing but respect for this invisible demon.
Yesterday morning started off like any other. I did my daily two mile walk around Lake Cliff Park in Dallas (where I get more dirty looks for being a white guy who’s done nothing wrong than a vegan at a BBQ) and decided to do the naughtiest of naughty. No, it had absolutely nothing to do with the bedroom, but it did eventually put me in a bed. You see, my wife and I are roller coaster junkies, and Six Flags Over Texas had been boasting a ton of COVID – 19 precautions. We’re both monthly membership holders and haven’t been since late December. We decided to take a chance. Two rides and we’re out. What could happen…
Somewhere between the car and the socially distanced line for our first coaster, my head began to spin in a way which made those old Lone Star Beer karaoke nights seem minor. I immediately broke out into a cold sweat and my heart began to pound. My chest and back tightened so we headed for home unfulfilled of our coaster fix. Even in the car’s air conditioner, the symptoms intensified. Of course, as with everything else on the internet, my symptoms were synonymous with a heart attack so a trip to the emergency room seemed like the right thing to do. I mean, I didn’t want to die. I have another book coming out next month which is so divisive, it will either make or break my decade old writing career. I’m leaning more toward break. I could use the vacation.
The ER, overrun with ‘Rona precautions, took me to the back with a quickness and hooked me up to all kinds of machinery. After being stuck more times than a freshman porn star, they discovered my heart was one hundred percent healthy and I had become the victim to dreaded heat exhaustion. A relief, to be sure, but…isn’t that some made up shit preached by camp counselors and drill sergeants to make you drink water? I mean, I’ve lived most of my life in Texas, Arizona, and California and this has never happened to me before. Nope. It’s a real thing, and it kicked my ass.
It was nothing that a few gallons of fluids and some rest wouldn’t fix…but it came with its own horrors on this day. A wake up call, if you will, to never do any type of intravenous drugs in special places. The guy in the room next to me was not only a heroin addict, but an obviously bored heroin addict. I listened as he talked on the phone for hours to different friends and family members. His story changed from call to call. His parents obviously got the imaginary tale while his friends, aka fellow addicts and possible dealers, got the story with a few extra details. My interest was peaked for when the doctor arrived for his consultation.
Not only had my newest friend on the other side of the wall been shooting up smack on a regular basis, he’d blown all his veins in the obvious places and found no other choice but to shoot the miserable drug directly into his penis. OK, first of all, I’ll be damned if a needle is ever going anywhere near my penis. Whether it be myself or someone else holding the tool, or whether it be a druggie or a tattoo artist, no one is going anywhere near my junk with a sharp object. Ever. This is why I never let girls with braces go down on me while I was growing up. The horror. Oh, the imagined horror!
Anyway, the guy’s penis was stuffed full of puss and he hadn’t been able to urinate for nearly a week. Without so much as a warning on my side of the wall, the doctors commenced to cutting the man’s penis open to release the pressure and cure his ailment. Sounds like a relief, right? Sure, if you’re the stoned man who couldn’t pee! Not to me.
The next half hour or so was filled with the screams of a man who prayed to anyone above that he’d never do any types of drugs again…at least until his penis healed. I know how this works. I’m a recovering alcoholic, and it pains me to walk down the beer aisle at the grocery store. My hyper active brain launched into warp speed, filling itself with images of my grandmother slicing open franks in her kitchen to fill them with cheese and bake them to a golden brown. My nose suddenly went back to the above mentioned kitchen circa 1985 and the smell of those hot dogs came into my mind, associating them with the sounds of agony from next door. I held onto whatever I’d eaten over the previous twenty four hours, refusing to share it with the floor or the kind doctors and nurses who didn’t have to deal with such hardships when entering my own room. I was heat baked, not meat scraped, and I think they preferred my ailment to his!
The moral to this story, oh wonderful readers of mine, is to take care of yourself. Heat injuries are no joke. If you know you’re going to spend some time outside in the Texas summer heat, don’t load up on caffeine ahead of time and drink a ton of water. Wear protective clothing and prepare. Heat exhaustion is not a fairy tale made up to scare children. If you ignore this warning, you may end up in a hospital covered in heart monitors with a next door neighbor who would do just about anything for a fix.
The alternate moral to this story is…drugs are bad, mmmkay? Do not stick needles into your arms, legs, toes, and eventually your penis and/or vagina. Not that I eat a lot of hot dogs as it is, but if this thing were to happen to more than a few of us simultaneously, the Oscar Mayer company may never recover! Our baloney would no longer have a first and last name! Peace to the peaceful, truth to the masses, and hell to the tyrants. I’m thirsty.
Catch me on the Butterflies Make me Angry podcast on Podbean, Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.
C. Derick Miller is a dark fiction author, Gonzo journalist, freelance A&E journalist, screenwriter, poet, ordained minister, and ASCAP songwriter born in the town of Greenville, Texas. A seasoned paranormal investigator and administrator for the fine art industry, his influences include Hunter S. Thompson, Kevin Smith, Shawn Mullins, and Del James. He is currently signed with Death’s Head Press and is Sr. Writer/Jr. Producer for AtuA Productions. Chad is also an active member of the International Thriller Writers organization, the Horror Writers Association, and co-host of both the “Butterflies Make Me Angry” and “American Justice” podcasts. He resides in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas, Texas and has a price on his head for his short story “Hell Paso” contained in the #1 Amazon Best Selling Death’s Head Press Anthology “And Hell Followed”. He wishes he was making up that last part but…it’s nice to be wanted.