Here is the next installment to Jeff and my series 'Hospital.'
Walter Denigan was ready to sail across the city and find the dying woman and resuscitate her. Shelby Dexter was not so ready. She glanced over her partner’s face and shrugged. If it was to be fried rice tonight, she was alright with that. But she’d be damned if he was driving the ambulance again. This paramedic team took their turns and they took their good turns. She smiled as he asked her about her father. Yes, she replied, he’s still doing well, and she asked for the keys.
“Well, I guess. Just remember, tonight’s supposed to be a bummer. The moon’s out. Right?”
She nodded when Walter smiled. He was right. She could see through the windshield. The moon was fierce; all the cracks were exposed tonight, winking.
The first call from dispatch was only fifteen minutes into their shift.
“No worries,” he chimed, and tossed his white box of rice out the window. He glanced up and down the lane, blushing as the sirens flared. The ambulance flew on rubber tire wings. The city laid out like a palm leaf.
The old drunk was brazen. He must have had a switchblade at some point; his ear was bleeding.
Walter held out a wolf’s head bleeding. The hallways of an ancient English
castle were bending in the shadows and crackles of a thunderstorm. He was not
alone. There were at least seven other blurry human figures. He felt fingers
stabbing him. He felt tongues licking him. The thunder suddenly stopped.
Walter was in a field.
the tiger to the ground yelling. He walked over to her. She bit his ear.
Walter punched her. He took out a shotgun and fired three shots at the baby
tiger. He felt like skinning it and eating the cat for dinner over a crude
fire in the middle of nowhere.
The bum was not pleased in the least.
“Just fucking hold up!” he barked and pounced upon the wino. The booze of the atmosphere peaked, and suddenly all appetite died. The bars were closing.
“Let’s go,” Walter demanded, and
Walter and Shelby rushed the gurney strapped hobo into the waiting room and raced back into the night. We brought him in, so what, Walter thought. It was his turn.
The thick darkness of the night came next. It was subtle, to collide with the ivy black of the city. They were well aware of it. A paramedic’s vocation trades in the secret knowledge of the wilderness of the metropolitan dream.
She was holding Gilbert. He was choking and screaming. She flew through the
air. Her prom dress flapped. The cheerleaders had vomit dripping from their
an aborted fetus. The wine flowed freely in the gymnasium. Oh how she wanted
to shake off her dress and swim through the red wine sea. Then she heard her
The blur of sirens and the chaos of the hot sound woke
“We can really take this one, Shel,” Walter reported as he maneuvered around the system of the city.
The ambulance pulled onto the scene. Walter caught his breath and sent the sirens silent. He jumped from the cab,
After they dumped the boy in the emergency room, Walter and Shelby decided it was dinner time. But
seated, were eating from a picnic basket. The woman held a deck of tarot
cards. Jim was only 4 yrs old in this scene. The tarot reader set her ham and
cheese on fire and told young Jim to, “fetch her, her walking stick.” The
pastoral landscape was undone by the sound of sirens.
Donald? Calculators fell from the sky. Jim was a grown man of 25 now and was
copulating with the tarot card woman. He moaned and yelled for God.
ears were bleeding. The sirens were too loud.
Walter found the cafeteria alright. He saw Kumar across the way and waved. They weren’t friends in real life, only here on the third shift. It was an act of exhaustion. Despite
He was eating at Burger King. He was in his grandparent’s car. The sky
left breast. He saw the words, “carry cart burdens" written in the sky. He
would remember them later for a second or two upon waking then forget them.
The two partners jumped when their break had ended. Back into the cab, taking calls, falling into the cracks of the street. There is a moment at night, just before the sun takes over, when all seems perfectly still and modeled. God must have been a paraplegic, Walter thought, lusting after harmony.