Saturday, May 14, 2011

Greenwood: Cicada lays eggs under man’s skin while meditating

The recent wave of cicadas has turned out to be more than just a curiosity for one upstate man in Greenwood, SC. Jim Furlong said he was behind his house in his rock garden meditating Friday afternoon when a female cicada inserted eggs under the skin on the back of his neck. He explained that the cicada’s activities went unnoticed as he was in a “deep, trance-like state” at the time.

Furlong said he had been meditating for roughly two hours on the day of the incident. He didn't notice anything unusual until afterwards when he began his post-meditating ritual of massaging hemp oil into the “sacred chakara [sic] regions found along a central line on the body.” It was then that he noticed a small mass under the skin on the back of his neck.

Furlong drove himself to Self Regional Healthcare that same night and was admitted at approximately 2 A.M. Saturday. According the medical report provided by Furlong, a small salmon colored sack containing insect eggs of an “unknown origin” was removed from a small incision just below his “vertebral prominens”, (the base of his neck).

The report also states the “…eggnest is of the correct color and size to be cicada eggs; however, further analysis is required.”

According to Michelle Fiana-Cornbriker, a biology professor at USC, female cicadas make a small incision in the bark of various trees or shrubs using their ovipositors. The females then insert 400 to 600 eggs into the incision, which will later turn salmon in color before hatching.

Fiana-Cornbriker said that in theory it is possible for a cicada to mistake a human for a tree or shrub if the person were to remain motionless for an extended period of time; however, she is not aware of any cases where this occurred and believes it is unlikely.

Dr. Vernon Muhamadridja, on the other hand, said in 1816 a Dr. Wigfaw Youngblood reported a case in which a cicada inserted eggs into a comatose patient at the Springdale Hospital and Asylum in Alabama. The cicada probably entered the hospital through one of the windows which were kept open during the summer months. The case was published in The American Journal of Medical Biographies and Lateral Inquiries.

According to the article, the cicada eggnest was not noticed while the patient was alive, but the cicada nymphs were found during an autopsy of the patient by medical students from a nearby university. The nymphs had, upon hatching, burrowed through the flesh of the patient and attached themselves to several skeletal structures in an attempt to mimic their normal cycle of burrowing through the ground in order to find and attach to roots for sustenance.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Woman Stuck with Hypodermic Needle Trying on Shoe - Awaits Blood Test

Shoe shoppers across the country are being asked to carefully check inside shoes before trying them on as a result of a recent string of incidents where customers found used hypodermic needles in the bottom of shoes at several shoes stores. So far only one injury has been reported.

According to the victim, who asked not to be named due to pending legal actions, she was trying on a pair of running shoes when she felt a sharp shooting pain in her left foot immediately after sliding her foot into the shoe. She removed the shoe and discovered a broken hypodermic needle protruding from the arch of her foot.

Paramedics were called to the scene and the victim awaits blood test to determine if the needle was infected with any diseases.

Authorities advise you to immediately report any needles you may find and that you should not remove the syringe yourself.

Chris Lawton

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Mike Became - Installment 3

If you have not read the prior installments, please do so now.

“As I was saying” I began again. “The Law of Civil Dawnings is a work of literary fiction that explores, by way of multiple literary devices, the natural course of mankind's evolution from chaos to civil order, at any given time or location. It starts with the lead character, Moses, who is mysteriously propelled into the future. As a result of his mysterious appearance, Moses is brought before a counsel of world delegates. He is asked to stand before them and give a report on a subject of his choosing.

He chooses to speak about how natural law dictates that civil order is only maintained when leaders reorder historical facts. Moses is concerned for the world and its current situation, as the leaders had lost the ability to alter reality using language. 'Their lives are too open, their sins made public,' he said to the counsel. He chooses to demonstrate the meaning of his statement by relating to them a story known only by a few, yet had it not been concealed, chaos would have resulted. He tells the story of how the baby Jesus was kidnapped by a love-crazed Philistine with whom Mary had had an affair.”

Then it started. Just as I had imagined. Donovan placed his open hands upon his face, his head tilted up. Slowly, he wiped his hands downward, as if this would remove the words he had heard, as if the words were mere spittle sprayed from my lisping lips, as if he could wipe them from existence. But the words had soaked in. At least he tried. The others simply looked down and rhythmically moved their heads left to right, left to right, working the painful splinter in further. Mrs. Heirs, however, was completely motionless. She stared directly ahead, unblinking, face drooping, mouth slightly open.

“The catalyst for the event, Moses explains, was a questionable relationship shared between two of Mary's students. The fact that Mary was a teacher is also not widely know, Moses explains to the counsel. But more importantly, the two students in question were superb athletes and Mary's eyes did often look upon the one with small hands that sat at the front of the class. This caused much discord between the two students, and greatly angered the one with wide eyes.

The wide eyed student confronted the student with small hands, and then cited a verse common to the period. 'Beauty is but an unknown presentation, my dear friend. Seek not the soft embrace of that which creates life, but seek ye instead a dark flower, a flower of savory earthen musk that grinds the refutation out of all who cling to forgiveness.'

The student with small hands would no longer yield to the boy with wides eyes. The relationship between the two boys was in danger. The angered wide-eyed student knew he must act boldly. He promptly sought out the Philistine friend of Mary and told him of her wistful eyes and lustful ways. And so, the love-crazed Philistine took Mary's child so that she might pause and think over her actions.”

Mrs. Heirs was moved by my report. Her tears flowed freely, and she ran from the class. Donovan was moved as well. He felt the urgency of the moment. He knew that no amount of face wiping could remove my words. He sought instead to return them to their source. He pulled at the words from his face one last time, reached for those that had made it to the back of his neck, balled them up into his hands, and tried, oh he tried I tell you, to return them to their source. Over and over he threw his fist. The class stood and jumped about. They grasped at my words as well and shook them high into the air, screaming, cheering, praying for victory. Poor souls. They did not understand the nature of words.

Mr. Locksley, the principle, he understood. He called me into his office the next day. There was a copy of the “Georgia Weekly” on his desk, the pages turned to an article printed a month earlier.

Date 4/16/82

“ The child of Vicky Heirs was kidnapped Friday at 7:45 pm by an unidentified black male. According to the description given to police, the man is 6 foot 1 inch tall and was last seen wearing dark blue pants and a white shirt. Heirs said she did not know why the man took the child from her home, and she had never seen the man before...”

Then, another article dated 4/18/82.

“The child of Vicky Heirs has been safely returned after a three-hour standoff that occurred at a house on the corner of Savannah and Washington street. It is still unknown as to the reason Aaron Stiles took the child. He released the child after the mother, Heirs, was allowed to speak with him on the telephone. Johnny Heirs, the father, was unavailable for comment...”

Mr. Locksley asked if I had seen those articles before. He asked if I had heard the rumors about Mrs. Heirs and Aaron Stiles. He wanted to know what I had heard about Donovan and Mike, if he should be concerned about their relationship. He asked what I meant by the report I presented. He asked if I meant to be sacrilegious. He questioned me about my religion. He expressed his concern over the stitches I received. He wondered when I would return to school. He explained that Donovan, being 18-years-old now, was arrested, and Mike was transferring to a Catholic School.

I explained that the book I read would lead one to believe it is best not to share the whole truth. I thought it an interesting view, one the class may find interesting as well, and perhaps they would learn something in the process. I explained that I was a devout Christian. I explained that the most beautiful thing about living in the South, Georgia in particular, is that it is perfectly okay for a man to love Jesus and at the same time hate Jews, blacks, Mexicans, and men of any color who refused to lay with women.

As for Donovan and Mike, I assured Mr. Locksley there was nothing questionable about their relationship. Everyone knew they were very outspoken about their feelings concerning men who refused to bond with women. I reminded him of the time Mike was suspended for putting the effeminate student from California in his place last year. “A great service he did for our school,” I said.

I swore I knew nothing about any rumors concerning Mrs. Heirs and Aaron Stiles. I told Mr. Locksley I was telling him the truth—the whole truth—which is always the best course of action.

“If rape and arson, poison and the knife have not stitched their ludicrous designs onto the banal buckram of our fates, it is because our souls lack enterprise!”
From the poem “To the Reader” found in the collection of poems Les Fleurs Du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) by Chaurles Baudelaire. Translated by Richard Howard. Lines 25-28.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

How Mike Became - Installment 2

Mike was not always like he is now. It's true. We went to high school together. Mrs. Heirs taught us English, and I'll tell you how it all started. I'll tell you about the day he changed. You'll laugh at this. I know you will, but I'll tell you anyway. It makes no difference; you cannot escape the words. Mrs. Heirs tried. She was always trying something. That day she tried oral book reports on a book of our choosing, but chaos cannot be chosen; only patterns can be chosen.

Mrs. Heirs couldn't see this. She desired everyone to think for him or herself. Desire was her undoing. Try it. Think for yourself. Choose what you will. Desire it and it will already be too late. The words will have seeped in, much like in class that day. The day we all felt so small we believed we could crawl into our own hands. You see, heaven lies in the possibilities.

I can still see it all clearly, as clear as my speech was in that moment when I gave my report. Mrs. Heirs had called on me last. I pretended not to hear her. I wanted to test her. I wanted to push her. I wanted to show her how to choose. She called a second time. Her lips turned down at the corners. They did this often. I wondered what she was thinking. I wondered if her glasses felt heavy. I wonder about a lot of things. I asked her about her thinning hair.

“What?” she asked. Her forehead creased in the middle, her eyebrows turning into two inverted Vs. How funny, I thought, or did I say it out loud?

Finally I spoke. “What I said was, the ancients believed the memories of our hopes and dreams are stored in our hair.” The Vs went away. She raised her arm up level, her fingers dangling, halfway pointing at me. She mumbled something. I mean, I think she mumbled. Then she stood. I stood as well. The others simply looked. They looked from her to me, from me to her—and back again. Match point, I thought.

I began my approach to the front. I studied everyone as I passed. Mike, with his circular doodles, directly on my left. His eyes were wide, his doodles narrow. Shauna to the front and left of him, lips tight, makeup heavy, no doodles, only her hands flat with fingers spread, like she was holding her paper down. I thought of stopping. I thought of tracing her hands. There, on the paper, her right ring finger slightly longer than her index finger. She could keep the tracing as a record, but what would it say? What would Mrs. Heirs hand say? She was motioning it in the air again, from behind her desk. Her desk, with the large wooden panels, small legs. It was all body, no support. I wondered how long it had been there. I wondered if it was heavy. I asked her about her hair. She didn't reply.

Then, end of the isle, turn left, approach blackboard. I wish I could say I rehearsed it all. I wish I could say I planned it out, but therein lies my dilemma, my curse. I don't have to plan such things. That's why they have me now. That's why they keep me. Don't bother with trying to understand. Let the words speak for themselves. Its easier that way. Imagine them, the words I mean, like when the sun comes through a slit in the blinds and illuminates a single curl of dust that floats ever so slowly through the stream of light. You can feel, now, how pleasure is just at the tips of our fingers, gliding, curling, gently swaying back and forth.

“Come back!” Mrs. Heirs said. “I want you here, in front of my desk.”

This came as no surprise to me. Neither was I surprised when Donovan, front row, second column, slid down in his seat and muttered something about the painfulness of this ordeal. Then he placed his elbow on the desk and his finger on his cheek, palm under chin, lips pooched, eyes closed, small hands, dirty fingernails, one eyebrow, books closed. He would be the first. I knew this too. The patterns were never wrong.

“I did my book report on The Law of Civil Dawnings” I said. Mrs. Heirs stopped me. Everyone lowered their heads. She didn't understand, she had never heard of the book. Her head twisted to the left, then right, then left, all very quickly, like she was shaking something from her nose.

“'Dawnings is not even a correct usage” she said, louder than usual. “Where did you find the book? Who is the author?”

I explained that the book was out of print. The author was unknown and that anything worth studying was created by an unknown author. I told her I found it in an antique store next to some lamps made from elephant feet. Just the feet I explained, and a little of the leg, only a little. I told her the owner of the store was deaf and his niece was slowly finding her way into the study of oddities from mistaken time periods. Her eyebrows turned back into inverted Vs, and her lips closed tightly together. Then, as I had imagined, she made known the weight of her glasses and relieved herself of their burden.

“As I was saying” I began again. “The Law of Civil Dawnings is …....

“If you don't know how this ended and want to know the rest of their lives there, then listen to the explanation in the next installment.”1

1 Wu Cheng'en, Journey to the West, Trans. W.J.F. Jenner, (China: Foreign Language Press), 69

Saturday, September 4, 2010

One Day at a Time - Installment 1

Don’t look to me for solace. Think of all those lost souls meandering about, meeting in dingy, free-rent rooms, pouring their hearts out, begging for someone to help them put the booze/pills down. I attended one the other day—“A.A. Courage Quit Group”, or something to that affect. You'll question my motives for this. You’ll say I’m a troublemaker, but I’m too small for that, too insignificant, I lack the power; I lack the ambition required for such a feat. No. Thelma is who you want. Blame your sins on her. Don't worry; I doubt you know her. I doubt a lot of things, but mostly I doubt Thelma, Thelma the Psychiatrist. She sends people to those meetings, like begging her for help is not enough. They have to pay a penance. They have to gather and suffer. God would have it that way I tell you, but Thelma won't. She won't tell you anything of value.

It's not that she doesn't enjoy her work. I know she does. I can see it all. I can see her lying there at night, relishing all those intimate secrets she’s harvested from her worshippers, plotting ways to get more. I would even say she loves her patients. It’s true. She nourishes them the way a dog nourishes his fleas, and after years of practice, she has quite a collection, like a gourmet brand of “mixed nuts”.

I saw one just the other day. His name is Mike. He was carrying a self-help book, probably from one of his groups. He stopped me as I was making my way to the local convenient store. He was pulling an imaginary hair from his forehead. I remember reading about his condition somewhere. He said he had been going to his meetings. He had his life together now. “Not a single drink in four days,” he said, as he gently pulled, hand over hand, the infinite wild hair from his raw forehead. “I just live one day at a time,” Mike said.

What a shame, I thought, or did I say it out loud? I’m not sure. I couldn’t read his expression. His hair-pulling hands blocked my view. He just stood there, waiting for a response. I wanted to walk away. I did. I was afraid he might know, but how could he? Thelma could have told him. She knows everything. It’s all in her files. She has stacks of them. I know she does. Don’t ask me how I know. I don’t know if I can say. I do know that Mike wasn’t walking away. His worn-out boots seemed rooted to the concrete. His white legs and camouflaged shorts growing out of them. His yellow teethe soaking up the sun. He was still waiting for me to interact, to feed into his illness. I refused.

“What about one day at a time?” he asked. I did say it out loud, but he would get no more out of me, no matter how much he pulled. “What’s a shame about living one day at a time?” he asked again. I stayed strong, though. I wouldn’t fall for his ploy. I knew what he was doing. I knew he wanted to pull it out of me like he pulled his imaginary forehead hair. I could feel it. I could feel the tug. I swear it made by brain itch.

I closed my eyes. I though it might help. I thought it might make the itching go away. I thought it might make him go away. Instead, he just spoke louder, like I couldn’t already hear him. Then he let go of his forehead hair and began to wave his arms about. I turned my back to him, but I could still feel the air from his waving arms. They felt so close. Yes, that was it. He wanted to get close. I could see it all then. He wanted to get close to me like he was with Thelma. He wanted give me his feelings, but I held tight. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. I kept it all for myself. The satisfaction, I mean, the satisfaction of living more than one day at a time.

I wasn’t going to share my secret. I wasn’t going to tell him how I lived all my days at one time, over and over. I wasn’t going to tell him he was cheating himself. I wasn’t going to tell him his girlfriend was cheating as well, or did I? The past doesn’t die. It’s born over and over. Much like Mike’s kicks to my back as I lay on the sidewalk. Where’s your hair now, I thought.