Colors of Love

The phone rings in the Atlanta Braves’ locker room. The bat boy’s voice slices through pregame hubbub. “Hey, Ben! Telephone!”

            “What?” The baseball player growls into the phone.

            “Ben Peters?” A soft male voice.

            “Yeah. Look, the game’s about to start. Who is this? What d’ya want?”

            “There’s been an accident. Suzi—”

            “Oh, god.”

            He listens to the details and slams down the phone. From a Nashville hospital, a slender young musician dials another number.

            “Memphis Uniform Patrol. District Two.”

            “Sergeant Morgan, please.” The musician waits, taking deep, deliberate breaths.

            “Morgan here.”

            Details are repeated. Phones click dead.

            So, my three men know. Lying there on the operating table, I can feel that they know. In the midst of the pain, I sense Cosmo has called the other two.  Whatever the cost to his heart, he would do that.

Agony blankets my leg, creeps up through my groin, settles in my stomach. A mask slaps on my face. I breathe blackness.

            FLASH! I am above the pain, above the flesh, floating—floating? O’m’god, FLOATING! I’m in the lobby where Cosmo waits for the others. I need to help him; need to kiss away his fears. Wow! It’s purple out here!

            Love rains from my spirit and patters uselessly into Cosmo’s soul. I see his tear, but cannot dry it. My sweet, sensitive poet and lover. It’s Saturday night, but you’re not singing. Has the music died? Sing for me, my love. Sing from your heart to heal me.

            FLASH! What the—?!?  I now hover above my body on the antiseptic table. I wonder if I will live; wonder how things will change if I do. If I don’t . . .

            I never thought about dying. All those days in the sky, a merry flight attendant flying my Tennessee/Georgia tri-city route, a man in every port. Even in rough weather, even with other airline tragedies, I never worried about dying. I, Suzi Buckholz, am a free spirit. Free spirits don’t die. Not now. NOT EVER!

            FLASH! I’m flat on the table again: Me and my human entity. My life plays out in living color on the screen behind my eyes. Suddenly free spirit seems selfish. Independence becomes scared. Truth exposes what I called honesty. Things are much clearer now.

            FLASH! I watch a memory of last Christmas. Cosmo holds me in the crisp Nashville air; tree lights flicker against ornaments, stars against the sky. Colors dance across our faces. Ribbon rattles, falls. Wrapping paper follows. His gift, a book: The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach. “About soulmates,” he says. His eyes beg me to find us among the pages. 

            My kiss of thanks warms to fiery passion. Ah, you taught me feelings, Cosmo. Like sun on the desert, or gentle drops of summer rain.

            FLASH! Another memory. With Cosmo in bed. Hands seek intimacy that hides beyond the touch—intimacy lost in words never spoken. “Talk to me!” I beg silently. “Feelings are glorious, but words need saying, too!  Sweet Cosmo, tell me your fears.”

            FLASH! Pain drives me from my form on the hospital table. I watch the knife cut away flesh and probe at bone. Too much pain. Am I dying? I’M DYING! I was wrong, Cosmo. Feelings are enough. Who needs words?

            FLASH! My spirit follows my thoughts to the outer room where Cosmo waits. He sits, head bowed, elbows resting on knees, nervously massaging each finger of each hand. I become his fear—his sensuality. They’re the same up here somehow. I love you, Cosmo!

            The hands stop moving. He’s heard me! 

            But he looks away, toward the door. I follow his gaze.

            Morgan! Familiar strong legs stride into the room. Oh, Morgan, you stride, stalk, and march, never just walk. Your Sergeant’s badge glitters against your Memphis blue as you take control. Morgan, my rock.

            “Buckholz. Suzi Buckholz.” Morgan snaps out my name to the nurse at the desk.  She looks up from her papers, his voice commanding her attention. Like it does from fellow uniforms. And criminals. And me.

            “She’s still in surgery. You may wait over there with your friend, Sir.” She gestures at Cosmo.

            I watch Morgan assess my poet, scrutinizing his competition with trained gray eyes, calculating if the pain of conversation with the foe will be worth the information gained. You clump over.

“Jack Morgan,” you say brusquely, hand extended.    

            Cosmo stands, struggling not to break eye contact. He flinches beneath the firmness of the cop’s handshake.

            Remember your center, Cosmo. Remember your dreams. Morgan’s a teddy bear; don’t let him intimidate you. But Cosmo cowers under Morgan’s gaze, and I am saddened.

            Morgan—my haven, my strength. Perhaps it is you I need. The old and strong may not need feelings and songs.

            “What happened? What have you done to her?” Flecks of anger and fear darken Morgan’s eyes; his voice is gruff, demanding. Darling, Morgan, always hiding behind interrogation.

            FLASH! Sutures crimp off my veins and suck me back to check on my body still being probed on the operating-room stage. I will myself to keep fighting.

            FLASH! I watch my knights circle for battle.

            “It was a motorcycle,” Cosmo says. “She had to try it alone.” His voice cracks. “I tried to get her to wear a helmet, but she said she was too much of a free spirit to . . . bother.” Pain and bitterness sound the same up here.

            I remember now, yelling about adventure as I roared away. Then the stench of hot metal and burning flesh mocked my hubris. Pain. Sizzling, searing pain. No! I don’t want to remember!

            A commotion at the door saves me. My dashing Ben catapults into the room like he’s sliding into base.

            “Oh, hello,” the nurse flutters. “You’re Ben Peters!”

            He doesn’t seem to hear her.

            “I’m a huge Braves fan.” the nurse prods. “Can I help you, Mr. Peters?”

            “I’m sorry. Yes.” Ben flicks the shock of blond hair from his forehead and flashes his famous, heart-melting smile. She forgives him his rudeness in an instant. I feel like I’m melting, too, but then I remember I’m a spirit and I’m supposed to feel this light. “I’m looking for Suzi Buckholz,” Ben croons.

            “Oh, my.” The nurse flutters again and glances at my other two suitors, who now stand together against this latest contender.

            Morgan ambles over, and I giggle at his pretense as he evaluates the enemy. Nostrils flare. Stallions prance. Territories are marked and acknowledged. Unconscious contempt for the “common man” curls Ben’s lip. There’s that “snob face” I hate. Stop it, Ben!

            “Who’s operating? Do we need a specialist? I’ll cover the cost,” Ben says. I see his fear. I am his fear. Ah, Ben, arrogance is a mask to hide your weakness.

            Don’t worry, I want to tell them all. It’s okay. Everything’s okay up here.

            DING! DING! CODE BLUE! Oh, no, it’s not okay! Flurries of starched white lab coats rush down the hall. The cord of light connecting me to my body jerks me back to physicality. Frantic commands. Hands pound my chest. I feel the hot sting of a needle. Fire surges into my veins and races wildly beneath flesh in search of the enemy that threatens my life. Electricity jolts me.

            COME ON, SUZI, FIGHT!!!

            My body jerks. Lungs pump madly. A cloud of strength surrounds me. I smile, absorbing the power of my knights as they put aside their war to join forces with mine. My breath surges at last. I’m going to live!


            For two days I lie in limbo, trapped in my prison of skin, knowing nothing but the hazy sense of changing auras around me.

            Cosmo sits with me first. His essence calms. Pink bubblegum love and poetic purple. I sense him going deep into his core to quiet his fear so I will not feel it. My heart smiles, and I wish I could make his do the same so he will know how his colors soothe. 

            Next Morgan takes a shift. His aura is solid gray. Steel. I pull his strength into me, but reality is crushing him, and I wish he could hear me laughing at death. He has never understood my flippancy about troubles. Not from that first meeting. I was driving my blazing blue MG Midget much too fast. Top down, I zoomed past this gray-haired, old-enough-to-be-my-father, very handsome policeman on his way home from work.

            As he wrote the ticket, Morgan gave me Lecture 101 about the dangers of driving fast in a convertible.

            “But I’m a flight attendant,” I said. “I love to fly.”

            “Then save it for the job.”

            He handed me the ticket. I smiled at him, saying I’d show up in court if he did . . . maybe we could go for coffee afterwards.

            “Are you bribing an officer?”  

            I laughed.

            “Laughing at a cop will get you in trouble, Ma’am.”

            I waved my ticket at him. “I’m already in trouble, sir. Why do you think I’m laughing?” 

            We hadn’t waited for court to have our coffee. For four years I have taught my serious man in Memphis how to laugh. And now, with a twist of a handlebar, I have taken his laughter away. From my hospital bed, my mind begs him to remember. Laugh with me, Morgan! 

            But he rises—age showing—and walks to the door. I think of the sun and concentrate on sending a few rays filtering over him. A flicker of yellow crosses his departing gray aura. A smile! He smiled! When my body has healed, I’ll show him how much that smile meant.

            As the door closes behind Morgan, energy races through me. Ben is near! Vibrant orange energy ripples through the air and descends over my bed. My spirit grabs at the vitality like a drowning swimmer clings to a life jacket. Consciousness creeps up my spine, knocking at the windows to my soul and flooding my brain. I try my eyelids for the umpteenth time—finally time they open. Ben’s crystal blues stare unseeing for a moment.

            “Isn’t this a hoot?” I mumble. 

            Ben’s eyes light up. Mine fall closed.

The orange aura fades into a rainbow of emotion as all three men huddle around me. My eyes won’t stay open, so I just smile and let the colors saturate me: purple . . . gray . . . orange.

            Now the doctor arrives. His aura is a pretty pastel blue. He lifts my right eyelid and puts a spotlight on my brain. I sit up, eyes bursting open, and push the startled doc away. “Hi there, sweet shining knights of mine,” I say to my three heroes.

            Nervous laughter. The men shake their heads, unsure what to do with me, but resigning themselves to love who I am.

            The doc eases me back on the bed; Nurse Hatchet prods for my pulse, pinching my wrist a little too tightly. Ha! Jealous!

            “Don’t talk,” says Cosmo.

            “Rest now,” says Morgan.

            “You’re going to be okay, kiddo.” Ben wiggles his fist. It’s the gesture he makes for me when he’s at bat on TV. He told me once it meant: Hi Suzi, I know you’re watching—maybe in Nashville with Cosmo, or Memphis with Morgan—but soon you and I will be together in Atlanta, and you’ll be all mine.

            “You say all that with one little waggle of the wrist?” I had asked.

            I touch his arm to still it. My finger traces down his hand as if it has a mind of its own, as if Cosmo and Morgan aren’t there.

            There is a moment of awkward silence. I smooth it over by motioning my lovers to stand together and say “party.” I take a picture with an imaginary camera. They understand. There’ll be no more talk of giving up the others—of marriage—about all those conventions that are not me. I need all three of my men . . . love them as one.

            FLASH! Pink, gray, orange, the colors of love, blanket me in a cozy glow. My eyes close, and I am flying. Free spirit . . . yeah, that’s what I am . . . Ahhhh . . . I’ve never flown this high before. So, this is love.

Green Valley , United States Of America


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