Sunday Sampler: Infinity by Nico Laeser
May 1, 2016
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Infinity by Nico Laeser, a novel described as a tragic tale, darkly realistic.
As one reviewer said: It’s one of the most beautiful, poignant, truthful novels I’ve ever read, and one that I won’t forget and will almost certainly read again, if only for the sheer poetry of the language. Nico Laeser is a consummate artist of the written word.
A seven-year-old boy is hit by a car and momentarily separated from life. When his eyes reopen, he can no longer discern the boundaries between reality and delusion, or perhaps between this life and the next.
After a childhood spent battling mental illness and nightmares that blend with waking life, he will spend the rest of his life within the periphery of society, displaced, discarded, addicted, and desperately searching for a place in this world, fighting against an intensifying downward-spiraling current.
I was seven years old the first time I died. I was riding a small red bike at the end of my street. Some of the older kids laughed and poked fun at the fact that I still had training wheels attached, and one of the group gave a subtle shove as I tried to ride around them.
The training wheels served their purpose in keeping the bike upright as I wobbled over the curb and down into the road, but the major relief from avoiding such a minor fall was soon interrupted by the sound of a car horn and screeching tires. All I could do was flinch and close my eyes.
I stood perpendicular to my motionless copy, stretched out across the road like a surrogate shadow. The driver got out of the car, ran, and dropped to his knees in front of me, while the kids took off running in the opposite direction. He shook the lifeless boy and pushed rhythmically on the small frame of his chest. I stood helpless, watching his failing attempts to revive the child, and in my periphery, the small red bike lay on its side with one of the training wheels still spinning and staring up at the sky.
The world began to dissolve, becoming something else. It couldn’t have been more than a couple minutes, from the time I was hit by the car, until my eyes reopened, but it seemed like forever.
When I opened my eyes, I was already choking, sputtering and gasping desperate breaths of glass. I scrambled to my feet, and clutching the handle bar of my bike with one hand and my chest with the other, I stumbled into a run. The sounds of dragging metal and a loose, rattling bike chain dulled the man’s panicked words before they were absorbed by the ground behind me.
Coughing, wheezing, and with tears streaming down my face, I kept on running until I arrived at the front gate to my house. I dropped my bike just inside the gate and stumbled around to the back door, where I collapsed to my knees with my arms crossed over my chest. With every stifled whooping inhalation of jagged air and saliva came a flurry of stabbing pains, followed by a burning ache as the last thin shard of air was scratched and clawed back out.
This is how my parents found me, wheezing, gasping, and crying on all fours. My father carried me inside and sat me in a chair at the kitchen table while my mother ran to the cupboard to fetch my inhaler.
My frantic pleas came in desperate half-words, sputtered and wheezed out of sackcloth lungs while the blue blur of my inhaler slowed in my mother’s shaking hand. She lowered it to my mouth, plunging the button as I dragged breath and spittle through it, triggering my gag reflex and resulting in a throat coated with acidic bile to be sucked and wheezed back into my lungs during the coughing fit that followed.
After twenty minutes or so, the respiratory convulsions slowed as my body gave in to the effects of physical exhaustion. Once convinced that I was okay and that the asthma attack was over, my parents let me go to my room, where I lay on my bed, replaying the events of the day over and over again in my mind.
I tried to make sense of what I had seen in those few minutes after the car hit me, not only the scene observed initially, but everything else that transpired during this time, which to me had seemed like an eternity.