Steve hated minor decisions. With a major decision, there was usually one choice that would look clearly right and one choice that would look clearly wrong in retrospect, and the decision was not to be made arbitrarily. But with a minor decision, everything might as well be left up to an eeny-meeny-miny-mo due to its arbitrariness. Like finding the secrets in the universe coded into the inconsequential decimal places of pi, one could surmise from a minor decision a person’s political leanings, whether he liked his mother or his father better, his choice in breakfast cereals and other embarrassing information.
Right now, while working at the Gap, Steve had to decide whether to fold the jeans first or hang shirts back on their hangers first. He thought about what people would think of him if he folded the jeans first, then he thought about what people would think of him if he hung the shirts back on their hangers first, then he wondered if people would see any sexual symbolism in either action, then he thought other employees might view him as lazy if he just stood around deciding, so he embarked right in on the jeans-folding.
Steve folded his first pair of Gap jeans that had newly come in. As he was doing this, he stood with his weight on his right leg.
Then, all of a sudden, Steve noticed something about his left leg. It felt limp. Steve tried to walk around, but his left leg just wouldn’t work.
Steve held onto the sides of the display table. He applied weight slowly to his left leg. But all his leg did was fold under him, like the pant legs of the jeans he had been folding up.
Steve stood up straight and tried the leg again. It held this time.
Breathing out a sigh of relief, Steve got back to folding jeans. He began thinking of what this meant, thinking back to the morning . . .
The morning, when Steve had gotten out of bed. One of his legs had seemed to be asleep. Not just a foot, but an entire leg. Had Steve slept on it the wrong way? He thought, but couldn’t remember sitting any other way than usual. He was in his usual starfish position that morning, right? As he had gotten out of bed and his leg had failed him, he had had to catch himself on the nightstand. He had then stood up straight, and didn’t have any more problems. Steve had gotten dressed without giving it a second thought.
After regaining an upright posture, Steve folded three more pairs of jeans. Then he felt a whirring in his head. Steve forgot where he was or why this whirring was happening. He must be sick today, Steve thought. Maybe he could call in tomorrow.
Then he folded six more pairs of jeans, before feeling even dizzier. Steve felt as if he was going to faint. He thought back to when he watched a classmate blind another in the right eye in third grade phys ed and had fainted from the trauma of witnessing the event. All the physical sensations of fainting that he had felt then were now coming back to him, except there was no traumatic incident to induce such fainting. Why was this happening?
Finally, Steve couldn’t think of anything except for the word "vortex". He thought "vortex" to himself over and over again, as he lay on the floor.
When Steve came to, he looked on his shirt to check for vomit. Steve noticed he was wearing a yellow pocket tee. Steve didn’t like yellow. It was so . . . bright. It didn’t fit well with the khakis, white shirts, black T-shirts, brown suede jacket, cargo pants and striped polos that Steve normally wore. Didn’t he notice that when he was putting the shirt on? Steve thought back to the morning. Didn’t he see that it was yellow? Well, if he had been fainting, Steve thought, something might be going on with his brain.
Then Steve wondered how that yellow pocket tee ever found its way into his dresser. He thought about how he had ordered some new clothes with his fabber a few weeks ago. He tried, but he didn’t have a clear memory of what else he had bought.
Could that have something to do with the pains he felt while pouring the sapodilla juice at Sharon’s party? Or the way he had forgotten that Peter was with him and had the videocamera while racing towards the taxi to get away from the AALL card thieves?
Steve decided that if no more incidents occurred between now and the time he got onto work the next day, he would go. But if anything else happened, he would call in. He resumed his assiduous folding of jeans.
Everything went well until Steve felt a wet itching in his right nostril. A few drops of blood fell on the jeans in his hand, so the reached up to feel his nose. When Steve pulled his hand away, there was blood running down his fingers.
The blood became more and more like a Monet painting. Everything became blurrier and blurrier until Steve could see or feel no more. He collapsed with the crotch of his jeans under his nose and passed out.
Steve was passed out for four minutes, then a blonde girl who was working at the Gap noticed. "Anna!", she called. "Have you seen Steve?"
"No, I haven’t, Jenny, what’s up?", an African-American girl nearby responded.
"He’s zanked out."
Anna felt around Steve’s wrist for his pulse. His heart was still beating. Anna heard some breaths from the boy lying prostrate on the floor.
"There’s blood!", Jenny shouted.
"Stay calm, he’s alive", Anna responded.
Word quickly got out around the store. Jenny got on her cellphone and called 911.
"911", the woman on the other end of the telephone said.
"Hello?", said Jenny. "One of my coworkers is passed out and bleeding."
"Is there a heartbeat?"
"We’ll send an ambulance over to 31417 Nopal Street. Does that sound good?"
"Oh, yes! Thank you." Jenny hung up.
The ambulance arrived after five minutes. Two workers walked in the store and immediately asked the people there where the "bleeding person" was. They directed the workers to Steve.
The workers lifted Steve up onto a stretcher, and tied him down. All the employees and the boss watched as the ambulance rode off towards the hospital.