by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Weekly SCREAMS!!! win
To us 'Oldsters', complaining is an art form. Developed through years of experience, trial and tribulations, wronged feelings, terrible mistakes and lately, health conditions... no-one does it more often, nor better with panache.
We have a code amongst us for who holds the prize of being king or queen of the mountain. Those raising an irritated nurse's "Tsk, tsk" bow their heads in shame. Those who qualify for the day's waiting room contest raise a passing, busy doctor's eyebrows half an inch on the head.
All of us acknowledge the winner with a weary groan, ancient wheeze and feeble applause. I've only won once. Being as old as I am, when dressing to take Diana to her medical appointment, I'd but my shoes on the wrong feet. My corns made every step like I was walking a Polynisasn Island fire dance.
Even though it was Diana's time to complain about her aches and pains with professional staff, I was whisked in before she could utter a word. Everyone stopped sharing family nostrums that cured everything but what they had. Nurses and doctors turned into a first class football squad tackling me, and carrying me into one of the tiny closets they call a doctor's office these days.
The fix was as easy as cutting my shoestrings and rearranging my footwear. I got out without having to pay a dime.
There is a legend whispered in post operating rooms of an eight fingered, two thumbed surgeon who loves experimenting on our best aged and most revered winners as a way of revenge and retribution. They come out of anesthesia screaming about sawed off limbs, misplaced or missing organs, and sex changes done without consent. That is, if they come out alive at all.
Some parts have been tracked down by their finger and thumb prints being connected to strangers with no right to them. Cornea transplants with signed waivers cruelly made up, and unable to be contested or sued barely see the light of day. Hospitals have a way of taking care of their own and Doctor Two Thumbs takes every advantage along with pocketing the proceeds of his painful and evil acts.
You know how fishermen love making their catches grow bigger each telling. The boredom of sitting on pins and needles waiting for our turns in waiting rooms made Doctor Two Thumbs a figure like that.
I smelled something fishy going on when they separated Diana and I with some folderall about new Covid19 regulations. They had a specialist in to take a look at her many complaints.
"Complications." A harried nurse explained five hours later. The usual waiting time was only four. I was getting worried sitting there with my fanny growing numb, catching who knew what fatal illness for the coughs and sneezes erupting around me.
I was beginning to feel cold chills and hot flashes when word came back that 'they' wanted to consult with me. "What seems to be the problem?" I asked.
"We'd prefer to talk with you in private. We have some sad news to share." I was hustled beyond locked doors that read 'surgical staff only' and dumped in a freezing empty cubicle.
"Please sign these release forms. The doctor will be in shortly." I sat shivering on the only one metal chair, chewing on a plastic pen while rubbing my eyes at legalese on multiple pages, under a light bulb glaring down overhead.
I'd stabbed myself bloody, fingers shaking with frostbite unable to figure out all the Latin legal and medical terms numbing my brain when the door opened. A man wearing the outer white coat adorned with ribbons of blood entered and said, "Nothing to worry about, your wife is fine. If you've finished signing your name, I'll escort you to her in the emergency ward recovery room."
"What happened? She came in for her monthly review?"
"It is better if the attending physician speak with you." A ghostly smirk answered. "Your cooperation is appreciated. You and Diana will get out of here faster that way."
We passed a line of gurney's with I.D. tabs connected to naked toes along the way. Deeper into the jungle warren of branching hallways we went. Weeping, hand ringing figures sobbed and looked up beseechingly as we passed by.
A scream erupted behind me where sheets draping a newly arrived gurney were lifted. "My God, what have you done to him?" was followed by hysterical laughter. "You stole his nose."
"In, here, please." My guide had hurried up the pace. The door shut blindly with him racing out the opposite side.
It was dark. A single moan issued creepily before me. "Diana?" I prayed they'd put me in the wrong room. I had no idea where I was or how to respond. I'd been left alone.
Slowly my vision adjusted to the gloom. A shadowy figure lay flat on an examination table, restlessly moving as if trying to escape some personal nightmare. "Diana?" I prayed, feeling faint, edging forward. I fumbled my cellphone into my hand, using its dim light to guide me.
A travesty of nature peered back at me. "Yes," a barely remembered voice hissed back. "Get me out of here."
No way was this my wife. A variety of additional limbs, eyes, ears and noses had been attached, ready for harvest. "Before they kill me," the voice squeaked.
The University of Utah is an educational hospital world renowned for its training of future medical experts. It looked like every one of them had practiced on my wife, if this is who it was.
"Gah," I uttered, swallowing vomit burning its way down my throat as a four fingered hand and one thumb curled over one of my shoulders. Each finger was attached in the wrong place and the thumb lay where the little finger should be, pointing right instead of left.
"I've scheduled the next series of operations you signed her up for. She is quite the remarkable lady, a real trooper. Thanks for agreeing to share a kidney, one lung and grafts of skin. Your blood type is a complete Match."
"Sure thing, doc." I croaked. Give me a moment alone with her?"
Doctor Two Thumbs rubbed his mismatched fingers, thumbs and hands together, nodded and left. I managed to stuff one of my socks in Diana's mouth, taped it with gauze and white tape in place to keep her quiet. A passing foreign looking intern's white coat looked more bloody after I donned it than it had before. He now stabbed with surgical knives left in Diana's recovery room.
One wheel on her gurney squeaked and wobbled as I pushed her out her door. There were colored tiles in every hue leading this and that way. I chose a sickly looking yellow one to follow.
Eventually it led to an underground garage opening where hearses were parked in somber long black rows. Somewhere behind me speakers were sounding with alarm calls. "Almost home free."
I slid Diana off her gurney into the back of one, after checking and making sure the keys were in the ignition. We never returned home, but hide out in 24 hour emergency rooms, steal jello and other delights from left over hospital trays and look like we belong in any pre-surgery room in America, wherever we are.
Diana has gotten used to her new disguise as a human monster. We don't worry about her being recognized. She doesn't even recognize herself. She acts quite honored, winning the day's complaint contest wherever our bodies rest. She may look like a monster, but she is my monster with her heart in the right place.
No-one quite believes her tale of what she went through with Doctor Two Thumbs or even that he truly exists. Reality is a fragile thing for us oldsters and not easily accepted when the worst of it must be faced when brought into full view.
|2nd place win. 628 Word entry into the February "Verfabula: A Creative Nonfiction Contest"
Bryce Canyon National Park is a temple of pink rock spires. Summer employment for college students like me offered pay for anticipated pleasure. I walked underneath the ladder in the doorway of the gift shop hoping bad luck would not follow.
“Hello. Hand me that hammer, will you?” Phyllis leaned down, our hands touching. Brown eyes and curly mop of hair adorned a willowy figure. A charge of electricity sent a shock through us both.
“You sure are. I won’t give you any static about that,” she laughed. Our first meeting yielded constant others while working and getting to know each other.
“Want to go for a walk on the rim tonight? Full moon should be beautiful.” The other employees had paired up together for the summer. It made it easier for us to fall into the same pattern.
“Sure.” There wasn’t much else to do than make our own entertainment. The rim overlooked a sweep of coral pink cliffs and bounty of carved spires. My best friend and his new fiancee wanted to be shown around by me as their guide.
The romantic double date evening turned cringe worthy. Slurpy, noisy kissy faces destroyed the silence behind Phyllis and I, making us both feel embarrassed. Our relationship was to the point of our holding hands.
I’d never had a girl so interested in me. She seemed to memorize every word I said. I didn’t realize I was her first boyfriend. She was practicing on me, testing my reaction to what worked. I was totally smitten.
I wanted to show her what a real kiss should be, a gentle quiet caress of lips and hearts joining together. When I dropped her off at her girls dorm, I asked her if it would be all right. “I’ve never been kissed before,” she closed her starlit eyes.
I whispered her name as our lips met in the silence of a heartbeat filled with love and longing. “Goodnight,” I said my goodbye.
Phyllis said she felt nothing until halfway up her stairs. Suddenly faint, feeling feverish, she swooned. “Wow. So this is what it is like.” She had to pull herself the rest of the way up the staircase by holding onto the bannister. The next morning, after she threw up and fever hadn’t gone away, the nurse said she had the flu.
So much for anticipation. Walking under that ladder had done its evil work. It had come back to haunt me. I was truly shocked when I heard she was sick. Flowers followed, along with get well wishes, for the next three days until she surfaced again, looking wane and wary of my greeting.
It was nearing the end of our summer employment. All that work getting to know Phyllis ended in a shy shaking of hands and promises to stay in touch. Every other couple traded hugs and addresses. “I’m sorry how things worked out.” I slipped a note with my college address on it into the palm of her hand. “I really like you.” Love was only a word away.
“May I have yours?” I offered a pen and piece of paper. “What can it hurt? We’ll be far enough apart you should stay healthy enough.”
Her face broke into a smile and laughter. “Why not.”
All I needed was that hint of continued friendship. Letters between Utah and Rhode Island grew into long lasting phone calls culminating in a Christmas visit with families. We traded hugs and kisses of our own. Neither one of us got sick of them.
There was a new shocking electrical chemistry between us. The following summer, after our June wedding, the tall steeple spires of Bryce Canyon welcomed us back in a delayed honeymoon. Every expectation had been more than met.