In the hierarchy of organ failures I had assumed that my liver or my lungs would give up the ghost first during my brief stay here in the mortal realm. Turns out, irrespective of the toxins I have diligently poisoned myself with throughout my life, it would be my pancreas that would check out first. Ironically, it was my overly robust immune system that killed off my insulin-producing pancreatic cells. In essence, being healthy can lead to a death sentence.
While I have always opined that I was born in the wrong era, the happy accident that I was born in the latter half of the twentieth century is probably the only reason I am still around to write this blog. A hundred years ago it is doubtful I would have made it out of my thirties.
Yes, we have made tremendous advancements both in the treatment of diabetes on a medicinal level (I am currently enjoying a particularly nice varietal of insulin uncorked last night)… we have also made strides in non-medicinal, behavioral methodologies in stabilizing blood sugar. The most obvious, of course, is refraining from sugar-based products. As my wife and daughters will attest, if I were to lose access to their baking there would be no justification to continue my existence. Though beyond simply watching what one eats, there are other things that can lower blood glucose levels, one of which is walking; something I do virtually every night.
Sandy hates walking at night. I, however, love it. Since she is usually ensconced in the Chateau de Lieberman, I tend to walk the darkened streets of Aliso Viejo alone.
Well… not really alone. There are other denizens of the night who regularly keep me company. Some are more aloof than others. We have an owl that tends to follow me around as I make my way through our neighborhood, as well as the occasional coyote that maintains a cautious distance as it monitors me and searches for wayward house cats.
Then, of course, there are the more talkative ones: my neighbors.
A few of my neighbors have also taken up the avocation of night watchmen. We seem to be on somewhat of a schedule really. Some have become unnamed friendly acquaintances. We nod to each other as we engage in our late night constitutionals. Others remain nameless, or to be more honest, I have long ago forgotten their names, but they are eager to approach and have brief moments of social interaction.
These chats are usually somewhat banal, but friendly. Each of my fellow pedestrians takes just enough time for a little interaction with no real interest in expanding our relationship beyond these short encounters. Each one, though, does have a personality, and their interests do come through when they talk:
“Did you see the artificial lawn they just put in a couple of streets down the hill? It looks atrocious! Someone should complain!”
“Isn’t that what you are doing now, Ms. Johnson?”
“Well, is there an office we can lodge a complaint with?”
“God, I hope not.”
“Hmmm… well, such a shame. We are going to be putting in an artificial lawn ourselves.”
“I am sure you will take all necessary precautions to make it look lovely.”
“Oh, we will, not like that other one. You should really go look at it.”
“I will, Ms. Johnson… Good night, have a pleasant walk.”
So it did come somewhat as a surprise when multiple people began speaking to me about “the attack”.
“Did you hear about the gentleman on Rockrose who was attacked the other night?”
“Right here in the street!”
“Someone on drugs, or something almost killed him!”
Well! This was interesting! A mystery! A little grit in my bucolic suburban enclave. Did we now have a madman hiding in the shadows? I was reminded of a missive that LTC Dave Grossman mentioned when talking about his young grandson. His grandson would accompany him on his evening strolls. One night the grandson looked at LTC Grossman and said, “Grandpa, the night can be scary. There are scary things in the dark.” Grossman turned and looked down at him and said in a quiet voice, “Yes there are… us.”
I chuckled remembering this, and was silently comforted at the presence of my P365 on my belt.
“Hey, neighbor!” Came the voice from the darkness.
“Did you hear what happened to me?”
“I am afraid not.”
“I was attacked!”
“Ah, you were the victim of the madman?”
“Yes! He walked by my garage and made comments about my daughter. Then he scurried away. She told me about it; I jumped on my e-bike and went after him!”
“Chasing down the rapscallion on your mighty steed! Outstanding! So… what happened?
“Well… As I approached I yelled at him to stop making comments about my daughter! He threw something at me and I fell off my bike.”
“Then he jumped on me and put me in a headlock.”
“How did you get away?”
“Well, fortunately, a couple was also walking by and they jumped on him. The wife called the police.”
“Was he arrested?”
“Yes, they took him away; the cops seemed to know who he was.”
“Yes, they often do.”
“Hey, I think I better come to your place for training. Things are getting weird here.”
“Well, yes, please do… and yes… things have actually been strange for quite some time. The image alone of you chasing down a twenty something year old on your e-bike gives me pause.”
“Yeah, probably not one of my brighter moments.”
“Well, passions inflamed can lead to poor judgment.”
“Well, my daughter was proud of me though.”
“Then you are a hero my man! Well done! Cherish your battle scars!”
“Do you think I should file a restraining order against him?”
“Might be a good idea.”
“Yeah, I should really come to your place for some training.”
“Also a good idea.”
“Well, enjoy your walk. Be careful though, some of the street lights don’t seem to be working. There are scary things in the dark around here.”
I smiled at him. “Indeed there are.”