Gibberish.  Babble.  That’s what the doctors say I’m speaking.  Funny. . . it sounds like English to me.  Ever since the accident Monday, I’ve been babbling.  I understand what you say.  I answer, and I think I'm speaking English, but no-one understands.

Yeah, I’ll have a beer.  Beer!  See, drinking motion?  Yeah, that’s the stuff.

See, I don’t know what I’m saying.  It sounded like beer to me.  It’s pretty irritating, actually.  The docs said something about brain swelling.  They say my language will come back, just sorta click into place.  In the meantime, though, I just gotta keep waving my hands around.  Or talk to you and get those little nods you keep doing.

Yeah, cheers to you, too, Davy.  It’s really nice of you to let me stay here.  You and Jane, both.  It’s not a bad place for a first apartment.  Better than mine, at least.  It’s got those homey touches, like women make.  I don’t have no doilies under stuff, or flowers on the table.

Still, I coulda managed by myself in my apartment.  I mean, I’m not disabled or anything.  Well, dis-talking-abled maybe.  No biggie, though.  I’m not much of a talker.  But I guess Jane had a point about me calling for help.  I can just see me on the phone with 911, all like: heeba wobba woo woo.

Oh, you’re laughing!  So does that mean my fake gibberish sounds different from my real gibberish?  Jee na na hop, weega!  Yeah, cheers, man.

So anyway, I appreciate the place to crash.  And hey, you can actually see your TV! Mine’s got dust on it like you wouldn’t believe.  I was watching the debates one time—you know, McCain and Obama—and I thought they were both black!  I guess Jane dusts yours.  Being married, man, that’s the life.

She’s always been real neat, I remember.  She used to sweep the porch for her grandma, even though it got rained on the next day.  She would bring napkins to school with her PBJ.  We grew up together, you know?  Same neighborhood, same school, same everything.  It was just the two of us until high school.  That’s when we met you.  Those were the days, huh?

It’s weird, talking like this.  Like talkin’ and not talkin’.  You just keep nodding.  I guess the doc told you to humor me.  Thing is, I know you don’t understand.  Sure, I’ll have another beer.  Damn, that hits the spot.  Yeah, sure, gimme a coaster.  I don’t wanna muss your table.

Oh, wow!  She still has these coasters?  I made these.  Shop class, eighth grade.  I remember thinking of her the whole time I was making them.  I figured she could use these instead of putting folded napkins under all her drinks.  I lacquered ’em up real good, too, so the condensation would bead.  See that?  It still does.  If you don’t lacquer the wood, you just get moldy rings in your coasters instead of moldy rings on your table.  She was funny, though: she used napkins to keep ’em dry.  She said she didn’t wanna ruin my nice coasters.  That’s Jane for ya.

Yeah, you just keep nodding.  You look like one of them dashboard Chihuahuas.

I almost asked her out, you know.  I was gonna ask her to the senior prom.  I was all ready, with my cell phone in my hand, when she called me first.  Said you’d asked her to go with you.  Well, what was I supposed to do, huh?  I couldn’t spoil it for her.  She was all excited, saying she didn’t even know you liked her.  Well, I didn’t know either.  Why didn’t you tell me, man?  We were friends.  You coulda had anyone.  If you’da known I liked her, you woulda backed off.

Well, one of us had to back off.

I thought I saw my way clear, though.  Just the once.  It was when you joined the Army.  Off you went to play soldier, like a shit-for-brains, and left Jane at home.  She was all set to wait for you, and I was all set to be a gentleman, until we got the news that you were, whassit called, MIA?  Presumed dead.  God, I thought she’d die crying.  And there’s me, holding her and telling her I’d be there.

You’re looking kinda blank, now.  It must be boring to listen to me babble.  I can cut to the chase.  Nothing happened.  I was just sick at the thought of myself.  Like, I’d known you since high school, and you were my friend, and there you were dead in Afghanistan, and all I could think was that I could have a chance with Jane.  I’d make her a good husband, I knew.  Not a soldier boy, but something solid.  But nothing happened, ’cause it was too soon, y’know?  I told myself I better wait a while.  I had all the time in the world.

I had all the time in the world until she got the call that it was a mix up.  You were all right.  And I was—well, of course I was happy, but I was disappointed too.  I mean, I knew I couldn’t have both of you.

Davy, you okay?  You look a little weird. . . well, probably just the beer.   I'm the same: too much of this and I get teary.  I try not to drink at night.  I watch The Simpsons or something funny instead.

I was watching The Simpsons when you called me later to say you popped the question.  The one where Lisa gets her saxophone, Bleeding Gums Murphy and all that jazz.  Still can’t listen to jazz.  I mean, what the hell was I supposed to do. . . not be your best man? We both know I’m your best man.

This is a great little apartment you got here.  Quiet though.

Too quiet.

Davy? How long have I been speaking English?

Karen Roy is fascinated by communication and language.  A recent college grad, she uses her bachelor's degree in
linguistics to work with people who have aphasia, while she turns her personal love of language to writing.  Her
stories explore relationships between people and how they communicate, or don't.  She has won a few small contests
and a little money for her poetry, but is new to sharing her prose.


This story grew from a ten-minute "write something, anything darn it!" exercise I made myself do.  I couldn't think of anything to write, and being on the computer, could not doodle.  So I typed "Blah, blah. Gibberish..."  Then I made a story around the gibberish.  It's an different type of piece for me: not my usual voice or setting.
Sometimes stories come from just being willing to play!



Copyright 2009