Welcome to the Bob Brader Blog!
This blog scares the Hell out of me! However, I have been trying to battle as many fears as I possibly can.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Church: A section that was originally in Spitting In The Face Of The Devil



I was going to church every Sunday with my grandparents and I was in my second year of catechism classes.  My family did not have much money.  Well, let me put that a bit differently, my mom and I did not have much money.  My father would actually hide money from my mom.  He hid money all over the house.  It was what he called his Bingo money and at this time he was going to Bingo about four or five times a week.  My mom took to making clothing for me.  All of the other kids in catechism classes wore suits, and I was sitting there in handmade multicolored overalls with a turtleneck shirt.  I thought I looked fine, but the other kids nicknamed me Farmer Brown, and told me more then once that I was too poor to go to their church.  I usually just ignored them.  I was an acolyte and loved being up front with Reverend Cell as he gave the sermon.  My parents had even given me a Bible for Christmas the year before.  This Bible was unlike any of the ones the other kid’s had because this one had pictures.  Not cartoon pictures, but actual pictures of Egypt, and what the areas looked like.  I loved it.  It did not go over well in the classroom.  Again I was the freak, only this time not only did the kids think so, but so did the teacher.  When he saw the Bible all he could say to me was: “This is not a real Bible.” 
“What makes mine different?” 
“Real Bibles don’t have pictures.” 
“But the words are the same.” 
“It’s not a real Bible, I don’t care if the words are the same or not.  I want you to get one just like everyone else has.” 
“I’m sorry, but I don’t see a difference.” 
“You can either get the things that are needed for this class, or you can leave.”
I was a bit confused; here I was learning about love and understanding in a place that had none. 
But the last straw came when the teacher handed out these books with all of these Bible stories in them and at the end of each chapter was a blank page with the heading: What Do You Believe?  We finished the first story and he started to tell us what to write in that section.  Again I was confused and I asked, “What if you don’t believe that is what the story is saying?”
He looked at me and said: “Then you don’t belong here.” 
I got up and walked out.  No one was going to tell me how to think.  The only problem was, I did not want to hurt my grandparents or my great grandmother.  They were set on me going to church and getting confirmed.  My Mom was not a churchgoer, so she didn’t care and my father was an atheist.  He would say: “Well, if you feel that you need to believe in that, then you go right ahead.”  So, I decided not to tell anyone of my decision to stop going to catechism classes.  I would get dropped off at the church, and go to the restaurant down the street, have breakfast and then go back to church to meet my grandparents.  This was fine for a few weeks, until one of the kids told the teacher that they saw me in church the Sunday before.  They wanted to have this big meeting and I just decided it was not worth it.  I told my grandparents and my great-grandmother that I was not going to be confirmed.  They were disappointed.  I think it was the first time I really let them down.  The really bad part was I didn’t care if I let them down or not.  I was starting to feel that the only people I could really count on were my mom and myself.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Preparation Hex

This is the opening from my second monologue "Preparation Hex"
2:45

It's 2:45 in the afternoon when it hits me. I’m sitting at my desk at work and I cannot move. I know if I even try to lift a finger, I am going to start crying and I’m not going to be able to stop. 

Triggered by Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” playing on our office radio, my mind starts some kind of chain reaction and decides that this would be the perfect time to replay the entire breakup of Polly and I. It’s like a movie trailer that shows you way too much of the film.
Fade in: on the day before the incident, two weeks before Thanksgiving. Polly and I are holding each other watching "The Panic Room" on DVD.
Cut to: the next day. I come home and she is on the couch crying. “You want to move out? Why? You don’t know?”
Pan to: me sleeping on the couch.
Quick cuts: Thanksgiving and Christmas which are nothing for me. I'm saving every dime I can to find an apartment.
Fade up: on the empty basement studio apartment I finally find and put a deposit on.
Cut to: “Polly, I found an apartment today and I will be moving out on the 18th.”
“Oh my God, I just found a place today on my way home from work. I put a deposit on it. It’s on 20th Avenue.”
“Where on 20th Avenue?”
Whip pan: “That's my place, right there.”
“Really? That’s mine.”
Three doors away.
Jump cut: Polly and I get one truck and help each other move into our new places.
Multiple images: of Polly and I seeing each other almost every day. We make love more now then we did when we were living together.
The images shatter.
Polly is sick, fever of 103. I help her to the doctor and she stays at my place while she's recovering, and two extra months after she feels better.

Blend into: our trip to Atlantic City. My God, she is beautiful. We make love at the Holiday Inn.
Fade up: on my empty basement studio apartment. Polly has stopped coming by.
Cut to: two weeks ago. It's Christmas time. Polly comes over, first time I've seen her in months. We exchange gifts and then she tells me about Paul.
“Paul is just like you. You guys would get along great. I have never felt this way about anyone. He really swept me off my feet.”
Just then her cell phone goes off. It's Paul and at the end of that call she says: “I love you.”
I feel a tear streak down my face.
I am numb.
Oh my God, I'm still at work.
I go in and tell my boss that I'm not feeling well and I need to leave. I grab my stuff and I am out the door.
My caring, nurturing inner monologue takes over at that moment. “OK Bob, just put one foot in front of the other, good, good. OK now, take out your metro card, thatta boy. Now get on the train, good, good. Think about anything except the fact that your whole life is falling apart, good, good.”

Finally I make it to my stop, get into my apartment and fall on the bed. But I don’t seem to land. I just keep falling further and further down into a pit of despair.
I had done the same thing with my relationship with Polly that I had done with alcohol, sex, even acting years before. I submerged myself in it, and as long as that relationship was alive, I wasn’t a failure, I wasn’t a loser, and because of that, I loved her and resented her at the same time.
Being with Polly helped me squelch my father’s criticizing and demeaning voice in my head that I had tried for so many years to drown out in so many different ways. Without that relationship, his voice came back with a searing vengeance.
I was in bed for three days straight, crying about everything. It wasn’t about losing her, it was about feeling that I was worth absolutely nothing.

If you would like to read the entire play, it can be found on Indie Theatre Now:
http://www.indietheaternow.com/Play/preparation-hex

Monday, September 24, 2012

Roller Coasters



I was in 9th grade when my friends and I were at Dorney Park Day for our High School.  We were talking and goofing around going from ride to ride and I was not paying attention to what we would go on next.  Finish one ride; get in line for the next.  It was fun, and I was having a great time, until I found myself in line for the roller coaster.  
I don’t go on roller coasters; they scare the hell out of me.  I wasn’t paying attention, until we turned one corner in line and I could see people getting on the yellow car, and see the bar come down in their laps, and heard the car screech down the wooden tracks.  I started to feel my stomach knot up, how do I back out?  I wanted to scream and run away, but what would my friends say, my new friends, my pot smoking, class skipping friends?  How would they react to Bob the scaredy cat? 
Suddenly, I am transported back to six years old.  We had a family trip to Indian Trail Park.  They had a small wooden coaster that scared me to death.  My father waited in line with me, and he held my hand tight.  No matter how hard I tried I could not get free of his grip.  I pleaded, begged, and screamed.
“Dad, please, I don’t want to go on.”
“You're going to love it.”
“I’m scared.”
“Nothing to be scared of.”
“But I don’t want to go on.”
“Are you a fucking baby?”
“No, I’m just scared, please don’t make me go on.”
“It'll be over in two minutes.”
The closer we got to the ride, the more anxious and scared I got.  I started screaming and crying.  When we made it to the coaster my father put his arm around me and held me down on the seat and pulled the lap bar down. 
The ride operator looked at my father and said, “This his first time?”
My father nodded, holding me in place.  It was the most terrifying ride of my whole life.   

Now I am standing in line for one of the largest coasters I have ever seen.  I must have turned white because Brian said, “Hey, you OK?  You’re not afraid of a little coaster, are you?”
I didn’t say a word.  I mustered up every ounce of courage I could, sat down and pulled the safety bar to my lap.  As soon as it took off I felt my stomach tighten even more, along with my legs.  Then the coaster started to climb and climb and climb, I felt like any minute I was not going to be able to take it anymore and I was going to jump out.  As we came over the top of that hill, and I looked down,  straight down to the bottom, I heard a loud crack, and thought for sure the whole thing was falling apart and that I was going to die.  Then the speed kicked in and we were screaming down the hill, then up another and screaming down the next.  The fear seemed to transform into some kind of euphoria.  When that coaster stopped, I felt like I had left a part of myself on that hill.  I was no longer that scared little boy and I wanted to feel that fear again and again.     

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The MRI

The congestion on the left side of my head did not seem that major, but when the month long antibiotic treatment my doctor put me on did not work, I began to become concerned.  Not extremely concerned, but enough so that when the next specialist I saw felt that I should get an MRI, I realized that I did not really have a choice.  So, the paperwork was filled out and the insurance company was notified.  It did not take long for me to get a call back from my insurance company.
“Mr. Brader?”
“Yes.”
“This is Marge from Freelancers Union.  We received all of your paperwork for the MRI and we believe it is a medical necessity, and we are going to cover the MRI.”
“That is great, thank you so much.”
“You're Welcome.  I hope things turn out for the best.”
I got off the phone with them feeling great about my insurance company, and feeling that with the money I have to pay them every month, finally it was paying off.
I missed a call from the Medical Center, but they did leave a message for me:
“Mr. Brader, we have you all set for your appointment tomorrow, just know that there is an amount due when you come in for the visit.”
I tried to call them back, but they had left for the day.  Knowing that my insurance company requires a co-pay, I was not worried.
The day of the MRI was an early morning, and I am not that great at early mornings.  Jumped out of bed at
7am, got dressed and Suzanne and I were ready to leave the house by 8:18.  We went to The Naked CafĂ© for breakfast and then ran over to the Medical Center for my 9:10 appointment.
The Center was huge and beautiful.  It looked like it was a brand new building.  We had to walk down a long corridor to office 110.  The door opened to reveal a large waiting area beautifully furnished.  Straight ahead were three different stations to talk with receptionists; to the right is the waiting area, large soft squishy chairs to sit in, wall to wall carpeting and a huge TV on the wall, with an aquarium video playing on it.  I walked up to the first receptionist.  She was a young lady with long black hair and a very reassuring smile.
“Can I help you?”
“I'm here for an MRI.”
“Name.”
“Bob Brader.”
She looked on her computer, nodded her head and grabbed a clipboard.
“I need you to fill these out.  Top page, verify name and address, sign at the bottom.  Next page, read and sign.  Next page, fill out this part and sign.  Next page, date and sign.  Next page, mark off all that apply, date and sign.  Next page, date and sign.  Next page, Initial here, date and sign.  Next page, date sign, initial at the bottom and then bring all of the forms up to me.”
I hate filling out these forms, it's always the same: no major operations, allergic to penicillin, I promise at this moment I feel like no matter how much you fuck up I will not sue you.  That one makes no sense  to me.  Of course if you fuck up I am going to sue you.  But I have to sign this form in order to have a doctor see me.  A very weird catch 22.  

Then comes a section that I have never seen before.  It is two columns going down the whole page asking about metal: 
Any wire sutures?
Any electrodes?
Neurosimulators?
Any metal slivers in eye?!!! 
What the fuck?!  I finally sign, date and initial every form and bring it back up to the nice receptionist.
“Thanks.  Would you like to take care of the payment?”  She asked in her nicest, and yet seemingly concerned voice.
“Sure, how much is it?”
“Six hundred and ninety five dollars.”
“What?  I have insurance, they told me I was covered.”
“You are covered, but you have a three thousand dollar deductible.  This rate is a discounted rate for you.  We tell the insurance company it was over a thousand.”
“This sucks.”
I look at Suzanne like I am ready to go, and I am.  It is Suzanne’s level head and her love for me that come through.
“What are you talking about?  We are here now.  Just put it on the credit card and we'll take care of it.  Nothing is more important than our health.  I love you, this is important.  We are doing this.”
So, I gave her our credit card and we went back to sit on the cushy chairs. We did not have to wait long before a technician came in.
“Bob..Bob Brader.”
I stood up.
“Right this way.  Can you verify your birth date for me?”
“9/15/67”
“Great.  Have you ever had an MRI before?”
“No, this will be my first.”
We started walking out the door.
“Our MRI area is under construction so we have these trailers that we are using for now.” 
It reminded me of the trailer that my grandparents lived in.  Small, but sturdy and I hoped secure.  I was also praying that no tornados were due to arrive during the time of my MRI.   We walked up five make shift steps to enter the trailer.
The whole place was very tiny and a bit cramped.  It was sectioned off into two areas.  The first was what I called the Tech Booth.  It was where the technician sat and ran the show.  Everything was on a desk that came out from the wall.  The desk ran the length of the tech section.  The main part of the desk was taken up with a computer that had two monitors.  At the end of the desk was a large box that the Tech opened with a key attached to a large yellow necklace.
“Do you have any valuables or wallet or jacket, please place it in here.  I will lock it and the key will stay in the room with you.”
I placed my jacket in the box and was lead through a door to the second part of the trailer, the MRI part.  The machine was huge and all white.  I felt small in front of it.  I laid down on the table, looking up at the Tech.  At that moment he reminded me of Ken Leung who played Miles on Lost.  I thought for a brief moment that maybe I was going to be transported into a different time or alternate reality.  But that daydream was broken by Miles.
“OK, so the test is about 15, 20 minutes and then you get an injection and we go for another 5 or 10 minutes.  Here, you are going to need these, it gets loud in there.”
He handed me a pair of squishy ear plugs.  They did not fit that well, but I did manage to cram them in.
“They want to see a dye test, and run it against the regular MRI.  Just relax and if you have any trouble just give this a squeeze and I will be in to help asap.”
He handed me what looked like an old fashioned camera bulb.  I smiled thinking that when you get really scared in the  tube, you squeeze the bulb and they get a picture of you looking all terrified.  Like they do on roller coasters. 
“Ready?”
I laid down on the table and nodded.  He pulled what looked like a plastic cage down to my shoulders, and had the table slide into the tunnel.  As my arms brushed against the side of the tunnel, I was suddenly in an immense state of fear.  I was transported to a different time.  It was a moment in my past that I had forgotten all about.  I was about 10 playing at my great-grandmother's house.  She lived around train tracks and there were lots of large pipes that you could climb in.  It was something I had done for years.  I would go down by the train tracks and hide in the large metal tubes.  They were very tight and it felt secure being in them.  On the day that was now flashing in my head I was playing with my friend Suzy and I was showing her the tubes.  Not sure why, but on this day I got stuck.  I couldn’t move.  I yelled for Suzy to help me, but she was scared and ran home.  I was alone and trapped. 
I squeezed the bulb.
“Hold it a minute.”  
He had the bed come back out of the tunnel, pushed the cage away from my face and I sat up.
“Sorry, I did not expect that to affect me that way.”
“No problem, lots of people go through that.  We have an open MRI machine about an hour and a half away.  I can set up an appointment for you at that facility.”
“No, it’s OK, let’s do it.”
I did not want to go to another hospital and go through all of this again, not to mention the fact that the other MRI may be more expensive.  Just relax Bob, just relax.  As I laid back down, I thought about getting out of the tube when I was a kid.
I knew I was too far away for anyone to hear me if I screamed.  I thought for a moment, catching my breath and telling myself to calm down.  Just relax Bob, just relax.  I sucked in my stomach and pulled my arms up over my head trying to make myself smaller and was able to wiggle my way out of the tube.  I never told anyone about that and Suzy and I were still friends, but the train tracks did not feel like such a safe place to be anymore, and I had to find another hiding place. 
I laid back down on the table and he pulled the cage down to my shoulders and I felt the table going back into the tube.  I took a few deep breathes, and only then did I noticed the mirror that was attached to the cage.  It was situated right over my eyes and positioned in such a way that I was able to see my feet, the whole room and a window looking into the Tech Booth.  Because of that mirror I did not feel trapped, and all of the fear disappeared.
I watched in the mirror as the Tech sat down and got ready.  I was not sure what to expect and when the broken symphony of distorted sounds started, I was intrigued by it.  I first started to think of songs that had
that particular sound in them.  It was very random and I thought mostly of Nine Inch Nails and Ministry songs.  Before long, I saw the Tech come back into the room.
“OK, keep your head still and I will give you the shot and we can keep going.”
He did not remove the cage, and I could not see what he was doing at all.
“OK, just a little pinch, sorry about this.”
The needle hit with a slight sting and I was wondering how long this would take, because a regular shot is quick, and he is still standing here, and that needle is still in my arm.  It must have been a lot of fluid that was pumped into me, because it took a while.  At least that's how it felt not being able to see anything that was going on.
“OK, all done, almost finished now.”
I was starting to go back into the tunnel. 
This time the noise had two very distinct rhythms and sounds. The first one was like the opening guitar riff from AC/DC’s "Highway To Hell", and the other was a gentle light knocking sound, like something out of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s "Knock Three Times on the Ceiling if you Want Me".  I started to think that this machine was trying to measure my good side and my bad side, like it was trying to get a response from my Primus side as well as my Barry Manilow side.  This sent my brain into overdrive and my internal monologue took over.
“What can you really see over there Miles?  What is this brain showing you?  Can you see all the pain, all the joy, all the victories or the defeats that this brain has gone through?  All the loves, betrayals, heartaches and yearnings that this brain has encountered?  I have experience more than I ever thought I would, more then anyone ever thought I could.  I have fallen down below what I ever thought was bottom, and I have soared to highs that made me dizzy.  Can you see all the love I have for my wife or all the fear I have over this thing with my head?  Can you see if I am going crazy or if I am imaging this whole thing?  No, you can’t tell me any of that can you?  You have no idea what this brain has been through and your machine could never discover all of the things that we have experienced together." 
The table started moving out of the tunnel.  During my mind's rant I had forgotten all about the Tech sitting in the control booth and actually had my eyes closed.
“All done, Mr. Brader.”
He pushed the cage off my face.
“What will happen is someone will look over the MRI, write up a report and then send it to your doctor.  You should hear something by next week.”
 I walked out of the trailer and back into the hospital to get Suzanne.  She was sitting in one of the squishy chairs looking down at her iPhone, and I took a moment to look at her, like I tend to do from time to time, noticing just how beautiful she is, and feeling all of the love that I have for her and just soaking it in for a moment.  And my brain thought, that machine could never see that.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Getting there is half the fun. Come share it with us!

During our cross country trips, Suzanne has taken to writing down notes on different things that happen on the trip.  I wanted to include some of the notes here and embellish on them as needed.

CROSS-COUNTRY TRIP #5

DAY 1: 12/18/11
NYC to Salem, VA

Alexander Hamilton Rest Stop, NJ
Roy Rogers
Suzanne: which do you recommend? The egg cheese and sausage crescent or the breakfast platter?
Woman behind counter who does not understand English:  You want both?
Bob: You are not going to get an answer on that one.

Whoa! Having those windows open is like having a York Peppermint Patty!

Waiting for sandwiches at the Carlyle,Cumberland County, PA
SHEETZ:
ENT Guy 1: I got number 69!
ENT Guy 2: that's a good number!
(They both laugh very hard)

The brilliance that is Mix CD disc 2.  I made seven mix CD's for the car, Suzanne is partial to CD number 2! 

Restaurant du Grease at the BP
Still smelling the grease 20 minutes after leaving the place and we only got tea.


Light up Santa at the entrance of the La Quinta Hotel, BIG ASS blow up Santa behind the concierge desk - hotel employee a little bitchy especially when she finds out we did Hotels.com and she can't take our credit card.
Showtime, Chinese, Dexter finale.  We used our TomTom, and Suzanne called ahead to find a hotel that had Showtime so we would not miss the Dexter Finale!!  It was so worth it!!






DAY 2: 12/19/11
Salem, VA -> Jackson, TN

At IHOP:
Suzanne: "That bacon looks nothing like the bacon in the picture."

Highway Sign - "blasting today at 11:30". I-80

Disc 3 is playing Sting's "If I ever lose my faith in you" and just then when we're thinking and talking about Patrick we drive by a green sign that says "Montgomery Co."

Bob: OMG! Long John Silvers! Richard and I used to go to the mall and eat there because it was really cheap.

Waffle House!
Perkins!
Bob: Perkins is a little more dignified.
Suzanne: Just a smidgen.

Hampton Inn Front Desk person: Mrs. Breeder?
Suzanne: No!

DAY 3: 12/20/11
Jackson, TN to Russellville, AR

Abandoned gas stations, Shell firebomb and unmarked on west side bring us, hovering above red zone, to Exxon on east side of 40, we usually boycott Exxon, but in this case we made an exception.

Memphis.
Suzanne: We're in the city of my conception.
Bob: Are you feeling all tingly?
Suzanne: Yeah. But it may be the morning redhots.

Church with bright flashing billboard - Jesus is the reason for the season of Christmas.

DAY 4: 12/21/11
Russellville, AK to Amarillo, TX

Free hotel room courtesy of dumb ass night shift guy turning off the A/C in our room from the Main Office by mistake and the lovely day girl remedying the situation.
Cracker Barrell lady, a younger blond Kathy Bates wears a "mistletoad" on her apron: green frog wearing Santa hat!

Kickapoo Casino

Bob: I wanted to take a picture of that restroom.
Suzanne: Really?
Bob: Awww, it was bad.

Sign - Leaving Kickapoo Nation
Bob: For a while there we were part of the Kickapoo Nation.

Bob: That (white) car has an antler and a red nose and drives like a maniac!
 
(Seeing Hitchhiker) Bob: O My God, it's Bill Bixby.  Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
1/4 mile later:  Sign - Banner Road.
Bob: Maybe that's where that hitchhiker was going!


Gracefully avoiding the Chalet Inn at Groom, TX, a town with a massive creepy cross standing in its town center.












DAY 5: 12/22/11
Amarillo, TX to past San Jon, NM to Amarillo, TX to Odessa, TX


 Frozen tundra wonderland
Gray, cold northern Texas
No recycling at the Hampton Inn
29 degrees. Why is it so cold?

Sign - Bushland
Bob: Is that an amusement park?

Jersey Girl Pizza in Texas - great pizza



DAY 6: 12/23/11
Odessa,TX to El Paso, TX

A horse statue stands outside the Fairfield Inn. We don't know why.

Putting on disc 1 which starts with "Movin' Right Along" per Bob's request and simultaneously passing a green sign that says "Kermit"!!!!

Large collection of cameras, and mirrors on large stands on both sides of the road.
Bob: What the fuck was that? Are we getting our pictures taken or what? (Border Patrol vehicle parked nearby).
Bob: Maybe they were taking pictures of us to make sure that we're white.

Heavy Snow...weather advisory: I-10 is closed through New Mexico.

Stranded in El Paso for the rest of the day. 

So there you have it!!  Right now we are stuck in a hotel room waiting for the snow to end.  We hope to be on our way by tomorrow, or Christmas!!  

A few shots from the road!!!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Test

My girlfriend Cindy had the monogamy level of a five-dollar hooker; of course I did not find this out until we were breaking up.  As our last fight was ending and she started to read off the long laundry list of men she slept with while we were dating, the only thought that went through my head was that old familiar phrase, “You are not only sleeping with her, but everyone she has ever slept with.”  As it turns out, I was fucking a lot more people then I thought. 
With that in mind, I decided it was time to take the test; the big test, the HIV test.  Now, this was in the summer of ’95, and I had no insurance, no idea where to get this test, and I wasn’t even sure what the test entailed.  After a lot of calling around, I found out that I could get it done, whatever it was, at a clinic in Jamaica Queens, and not only was it free, but it was also anonymous.  I walked into the hospital, it was a Wednesday morning and the place was empty.  I asked at the front desk about the HIV test and the lady  pointed to a large wooden door that had the word “clinic” written on a piece of paper taped to the door.  I walked in and it was a huge space.  They had TVs in every corner of the room looking down from the ceiling held up with brackets, and row after row of chairs except for an aisle that lead to the nurse behind the bulletproof glass that was so thick she had to use an intercom system in order for you to hear her.
“Can I help you?”  Her voice echoed throughout the empty space.
“I’m here to take an HIV test.”
“Fill this out.”
I filled out the card and placed it back through the paper-thin slot under the bulletproof glass.
“Have a seat, the doctor will be with you any moment.”
I sat alone in that huge space thinking about nothing but how much I hated Cindy for making me feel paranoid enough to even take this test. 
The nurse called me into the doctor’s small room.  The exam table was just large enough for you to sit on, and across from it was a metal cabinet crowded with jars of cotton balls, tongue depressors, Q-tips, normal things in a doctor’s office, but there seemed to be no order to anything it was just thrown together.
“Take your pants off and sit up on the table, the doctor will be with you soon.” The nurse was then out of the door in a flash.
I took my pants off and sat on the cold metal table.  Now I am having images of choking Cindy with my bare hands.
The door opens and in walks the oldest doctor I have ever seen in my life.   He has white hair, walking really slow and looking very confused.  The only real way I knew he was the doctor was because he wore a white coat and had a stethoscope.  The image of Tim Conway from “The Carol Burnet Show” jumped into my head and I almost laughed.

“HIV test?”
“Yes, Sir.”
“You like to be checked for other sexually transmitted diseases, yes?”
“Sure.”
With that being said, in a flash, the doctor grabbed my dick like some kind of angry lover and very roughly examined ever inch of it.  Now the doctor has ceased to be funny in my mind, he was starting to scare me.  While he still had the stem of my dick in his hand, he reached over and grabbed a long Q-tip out of one of the containers and in one quick motion rams it into my dick.
“OW!”
“Sorry about that.”  Now I am thinking that this doctor just wants to torture me.  He yanks the Q-tip out and releases my dick. 
“I do not see any warts or lesions or puss, so that is good.  The nurse will be in to take your blood, you can put your pants on.”
As he waddled out of the room, I could not help but feel violated.  Now I am thinking no matter what the results, I want to tell Cindy I have something just so she has to go through this hell.
As I am pulling my pants back up the nurse comes in.
“Hold out your arm.”
She grabs my arm and jabs the needle in a vein and fills up a vile.
“So, which test is the HIV test?”
“This one is, the blood needs to be analyzed to find out if you are positive or negative.  I had you take off your pants, because I knew the only reason a white boy like you would come to a clinic like this was because he stuck his dick in something he should not have stuck his dick in.  Am I right?”
“Well, I guess that is true.”
“And nobody will know that you ever came in here to take this test, unlike if you went to your family doctor who would have to put the results in your file.  That’s why I figured you’d want to get checked for everything while you were here.  All finished, you can come back in three weeks for the results.”
She put a label on my blood and I was out the door. 
After I left the hospital I thought about how stupid I was being, worrying over this test.  I am not sick, I feel great, and I am just being very silly.  The day to go in and get my results came and went and I felt no reason to go in and get the results, I am fine.
Then the letter came.  It was from the clinic. 

Dear Mr. Brader,
A few weeks ago, you came into the clinic to take an HIV test.  The results of your test are in and it is imperative that you come into the clinic and get your results.  Please report to the clinic on Saturday, August 22.

It is amazing how only one word stood out in that letter, the word imperative.  Fuck, I knew I was sick.  Christ, I have this fucking disease.  I knew that was not just a black and blue mark on my leg, when did I hit my leg against anything?  My throat has been sore for the last few days, and that is not normal.  I am going to die.
When I walked into the clinic on August 22, it was a totally different scene than when I was there the first time.  All of the seats were full, people were all over the place, and all of the televisions were on.  The noise was deafening.  I went up to the bulletproof glass.
“I am here to get the results of my HIV test!”
“Name!”
“Bob Brader!”
“Have a seat!”
I turned and looked for a seat, it was not easy to find, but I did and started to notice everything that was going on in the room.  All of the television sets were on and two of them had Magic Johnson talking about dealing with AIDS.  One of the other ones had a video on about a man who had an affair with a prostitute and has to tell his wife that he has AIDS and she needs to get tested for it.  The other set had a doctor talking about living with AIDS and the different drugs that are available.  The TVs were freaking me out even more, so I started looking around the room at the people waiting.  Nine gang members were sitting in one corner, all of them crying.  Not just a tear, but openly weeping, loudly.  A mother was holding her baby, crying and screaming.  A family on the opposite end of the room were all looking at their one son and shaking their heads.  The rest of the waiting room was filled with people like me, anxiety-ridden people waiting to get that result. 
Then it hit me, that is why they called me in on this day.  Everyone here has it, this just makes it easy for them.  If you are here on this day, you have the disease.  At this realization, I go into a panic, I am having trouble breathing, I am sweating and I am shaking.  I look over at the gang members who are now hugging each other and wailing.  Who am I going to be able to hug when they tell me?  How do I tell my mom that I am going to die?  How the fuck am I going to be able to afford all of those drugs this doctor is talking about?  The room is spinning, all the blood in my infected body is rushing to my feet and I feel like I am going to pass out.
“Bob Brader.”
“AH!”
A man dressed in all white carrying a clipboard calls my name.  He is the Messenger of Death, and he wants me to fallow him to the doctor’s office.  He looks like a very nice guy, and this very nice man holds the secret to the rest of my life in the palm of his hand.  Once we are in the office and he closes the door, he throws the clipboard on the desk. 
“I guess you want to know what your results are?”
“Yes, I do.”
He takes his pen, puts it under the top page of the clipboard and flips the page up.
The word NEGATIVE was in big bold letters on the center of the page, and nothing else.  The Angel of Death said some more things while I was in the room with him, but I have no idea what they were.  I ran out of that clinic, with the feeling that I had just cheated death.