Monday, July 9, 2007


The stained, dust-ridden, electrical glass doors whish open, inviting the new out-of-towners into a world they never knew existed. A world they won't be able to wait to leave.

The wheelchair pushing the initiate, graffitied with white paint on the back and advertising the name of the hospital, is cautiously wheeled over the metal door frames into the foyer of this altered world by the close friend of the unfortunate one seated.

A silver, rectangular-boxed wall fan circulates the stale, urine-soaked air in this suffocating entryway. It's the doormat of this amazing underworld that passerbyers wipe their feet on. And, like the blessed holy water in that marbled pedestal, all that enter are baptized into this new, dream-like, chaotic world.

The tracks of the electronic door scratch as the glass doors close behind them. Like a book falling from a shelf and slamming onto the aged, wooden floor, a loud thud advertises those who have passed through have now come forth.

The two women jump uneasily as their arrival is announced.

"Lighters? Matches? Knives? Guns? Do you have any of those?" The security guard, gloved in sea-blue gloves fondles the pockets, waistband, and ankles of these new initiates. A glance at one another and a furrow of their brows initiates a quick, justifying quip by the security guard, "You can never be to safe, ladies."

Another whish, scratch, and thud.

Longhaired and greasy, with his hands cuffed behind his back stands a mediocre man in jean shorts and a striped, Izod crew. No socks and untied shoes. No belt. Stains of tears chalk his red cheeks. Two men, badged in green short-sleeved polyester shirts flank his sides. Pressed and tucked, official and important, these two chaperones of justice are but transient visitors in this chaotic world.

An oversized wheelchair strolls backwards from the triage desk. Backwards, and with disregard, it forges its way into the ever-tightening lobby of the women's altered world. Its grey handle pokes the pleats of the cotton skirt of the friend with the friend. Her eyes bulge and her body stiffens. She steps closer to the resemblance of the world she once knew and squeezes her hand.

"Say my brother, what happened to your feet?" His IV tubing filling with blood as he holds the bag shoulder level like a tray of hors d'ourves. He is strolling the linoleumed floor crammed with beds. His eyes are on the exit.

A grunt and a miff. The bloody-faced transient with matted hair stares emptily into the inquisitors face. His amputated feet are gift wrapped in the full-length red sweats, knotted at the cuffs. He turns and rolls onto his side, pressing his face into the stains of blood on the sheet.

The two women from out of town clutch one another as though walking down a dark alley in Gotham. One, confused as to exactly what is happening in this world, quietly exclaims justifications as to why she doesn't feel she belongs here.

"We're from out of town. Our friends are shopping."

Whish. Scratch. Thud.

"Excuse me, sir. EXCUSE ME, SIR! Have you been discharged?" Security amasses the fleeing, IV'd patron and corals him back into the world that he obviously belongs. His IV tubing now full of blood. The bag, resting on his shoulder like a wool scarf in fall, pinkens with the mixture of blood and saline.

"Ladies," he says with a tip of his imaginary hat.

They clutch one another. And with the obvious bond like those on a sinking ship, or a crashing plane, or a burning building, they move sure-footedly forward into the center of the triage area, next in line for the hurried triage nurse.

"Medical Assessment triage, medical assessment triage!" Crackled overhead by a tired guard, this welcome summons the charge nurse once again.

They take some deep breaths and hold one another tight. They can see the depths of this frightening world. Clocks drip from the wall like Salvador Dali's imagination and people's faces silently scream like the expressionist painting by Munch of the man screaming affront a blood red sky. All seven layers of hell are visible from where they stand.

The charge approaches and mumbles with another nurse in the tight quarters. The look at one another, then the foreign women, then at one another again. Their future is determined and like the gavel of a courtroom judge on his wooden bench, their room number is assigned with a loud rap. "Room number 11, please."

The wheelchair is unlocked and its occupant is once again pushed farther into the underworld. And, with the loyalty of a Golden Retriever, her one and only friend, the one who could be shopping now with their other friends, clutches her hand even tighter and shadows her down the hall.

"We're from out of town. We could be shopping, now." She says, as they slide deeper into their own nightmare.


Epijunky said...

I check my email every day hoping you've posted something. I really enjoy your writing.

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kyle J. said...

Your blog posts put the glory into EMS. The way you word these scenes are amazing. Definitely a daily read.

Matt M said...

Top quality, as always. Thanks.

MonkeyGirl said...

I tagged you for a Blogger Reflection Award; swing by my blog for details.

PS: That means I think you rock.