Lucky Man – A memoir by Michael J. Fox
Chapter One – A Wake-up Call
Gainseville, Florida – November 1990
I woke to find the message in my left hand. It had me trembling. It wasn’t a fax, telegram, memo, or the usual sort of missive bringing disturbing news. In fact, my hand held nothing at all. The trembling was the message.
I was feeling a little disoriented. I’d only been shooting the movie in Florida for a week or so, and the massive, pink-laquered, four-poster bed surrounded by the pastel hues of the University Center Hotel’s Presidential Suite still came as a bit of a shock each morning.
It was Tuesday morning, so while I couldn’t recall the exact details of the previous night’s debauchery, it was a pretty safe bet that it had something to do with Monday Night Football. In those first few seconds of consciousness, I didn’t know what time it was, but I could be fairly certain that I hadn’t overslept. If I was needed on set, there would have been a phone call from my assistant, Brigette. If I had to leave the hotel at 10:00 A.M., let’s say, she would have called at 9:30, again at 9:40, then finally at 9:50 she would have taken the elevator from her floor up to mine, let herself into my room, propelled me to the shower, and slipped into the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee. None of this having transpired, I knew I had at least a few minutes.
Even with the lights off, blinds down, and drapes pulled, an offensive amount of light still filtered into the room. Eyes clenched shut, I placed the palm of my left hand across the bridge of my nose in a weak attempt to block the glare. A moth’s wing—or so I though—fluttered against my right cheek. I opened my eyes, keeping my hand suspended an inch or two in front of my face so I could finger-flick the little beastie across the room. That’s when I noticed my pinkie. It was trembling, twitching, auto-animated. How long this had been going on I wasn’t exactly sure. But now that I noticed it, I was surprised to discover that I couldn’t stop it.
Weird—maybe I slept on it funny. Five or six times in rapid succession I pumped my left hand into a fist, followed by a vigorous shaking out. Interlocking the fingers of each hand steeple-style with their opposite number, I lifted them up and over behind my head and pinned them to the pillow.
Tap. Tap. Tap. Like a moisture-free Chinese water torture, I could feel a gentle drumming at the back of my skull. If it was trying to get my attention, it had succeeded. I withdrew my left hand from behind my head and held it in front of my face, steadily, with fingers splayed—like the bespectacled X-ray glasses geek in the old comic book ad. I didn’t have to see the underlying skeletal structure; the information I was looking for was right there in the flesh; a thumb, three stock-still fingers, and out there on the lunatic fringe, a spastic pinkie.