Tuesday, July 10, 2012

45- Cantankerous

*This story is in my memory bank, and to me, this is how it went down.  As you read, you will agree that a lot of this is not feasible, or rational.  It involves a former co-worker, and according to my family, my most frequent visitor when I was in the hospital.  This is one of the visits that stands out.  I remember him being around a lot, yet, to not stray from what has become the norm, I have not spoken to him, since.  So goes the life of a recovering addict.*

"All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true."
--Kurt Vonnegut

November 2011


 My private dormitory, that seems set-apart from the rest of the hospital, has reverted to its original appearance.  The room is saturated in a amber hue, and the 1960's art deco chairs are lining the left wall.  They have lime-green upholstery, and reflective chrome legs that run from the floor, encasing the dirty pattern.  Through the chicken wire laced window of my door, I can see another entryway.  It resembles a large, walk-in cooler door, and a heavy latch.  I think of the lock that Wendy used to imprison Jack, in Kubrick and King's,  The Shining. 

The length of my bed is uncomfortably lacking, and I am constantly in a hunched over posture.  I have no strength to right myself, and when I attempt to push my dead weight with my feet, an alarm sounds.  Its not a warning sound, "beep- don't do that", but the shrill of an alarm clock that could wake the patient on the floor above me.  The piercing noise does not end, until one of the hospital staff admits they can hear it.  If this were an emergency, the wait would be too long.


As a nurse enters to shush my annoyance, I see my friend crossing the hall.  He is carrying two aluminum cans, and a Styrofoam cup.  An orange soda, a grape soda, and what I can only guess is a Vodka Cranberry.  His drink of choice.  I know this because it is my pleasure, as well.  The Styrofoam with his initials on it is a dead give-away.  He tells me its not liquor.  I don't care.  

I am thirsty, though.

From the beginning of my stay here, I have the impression that there is a cafeteria, and bar area, near my room.  I can see it through the bay window on my right, and it seems busy.  Consisting of a large area of community tables, and a service well at my end of the bar.  A tall brunette girl is running a blender, and the lights are on.  It must be closing time.

My new adult beverage of choice is chocolate milk.  I've been having odd cravings for milk, peaches, pineapple, and more milk.  Cold, chocolate milk.  I conjure up my best notion of an urgent request, and ask my friend to grab a cool carton of lactate for me, before they make last call.

"Ask them for two", I add.
"OK.  I'll go ask them", my friend tells me.  "You want one of those frozen drinks, too?", he asks.
That sounds sarcastic.  Hm.  "No.  Just the milk.  Thanks", I reply.
I watch my friend through the window, and the barkeep doesn't seem to be taking his order.

When he returns, he is empty handed, and I am extremely disappointed.
"What happened?", I ask him.  "Where is the milk?"
"They told me they were out", he says.  "They don't sell a lot of stuff with milk in it."
"Drink your sodas.  Here you go", he picks at me.  "What flavor do you like?  Orange, or purple?"
"Neither", I say.  I cross my arms, lean back, and sulk.

After a few moments, I am acting like a teenager, and any one saying no to me is stupid.  I am livid, frustrated, and shout rhetorically.
"What the fuck?  All I want is a chocolate milk!"  I am the grumpy old man that I appear to be.  "It is not a grandi..uh..gran..uh...BIG request!"

When my friend tries to quiet me, I only rant louder, and I notice the help becoming restless in the hall.  
"All damned day, everyone asks me what I want!  I want some chocolate milk!", I insist.

I have gained some attention, and my friend is ushered out of my room.
The nurse points his hand at me with his palm stretched, and facing the floor.  He could pass for a cop, the way he is standing.  His right hand is on his hip, and his rear end is stretched backward.  He motions with his left, pushing toward the floor.

"Easy.  Take it easy", he says.  "What's going on?"
I suddenly realize that they are afraid I might do something violent.  I don't know what, since I can't move on my own. 
"I am just thirsty", I say in a more relaxed tone.  "And, I'm tired.  I'm tired of this.  I can't do this, anymore."

"Yes, you can", the nurse assures me.
"I want to fix this", I say.
"I know", he consoles.  "You're going to feel a little cold in your arm, OK?"

It doesn't matter.

I just want to go home.

Photo: Destructive Habit
By:  Blanche Sullivan (Mom)

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