Saturday, May 3, 2008

if you're feeling down

Here's another delivery from Jeff and my 'hospital' series. (a little inside knowledge for the eager reader: I used to work third shift in a hospital; wink!)

young warehouse worker

Kris showed up at ten-fifty five for work. His smooth khaki shirt and pants were eager. He slid his badge over a time machine and punched in for the night. The early mornings were the worst, but he put that thought away and marched back back into the annals of the hospital. He thought instead of his girlfriend, of their new cat, and the brother he had just left at a bar. One more drink, his brother had pleaded, but no, it was work, it was work, it was work. But he did hate his job. Animals could do it, machines, he thought. He was a writer, he didn’t belong in this place. Kris began to compose the makings of a new poetic form. Images and sounds began to compose and construct kineticism and harmony. He was, if nothing else, a man of new interest and fleeting attention.

The back warehouse was an arid place. Old black women sat up nights, answering phones. Retired Navy Vets and busted fat white men waited around, delivering supplies to nursing wards the hospital over. The back room, stocked to the gills with endless low end medical paraphernalia, was also a sight. It contained all the elements of blood and needle work with diapers intermittent. Kris did not like the feel of the room; somehow it oppressed him. And when the truck rolled in, and old men began to hop, young Kris somehow felt oppressed further. He was a tank. Lift a box of supplies. Sort it in the stacks. Heave the medical waters into the corner. Take a break. It was routine, perhaps, that had staked his soles to the concrete. But the truck drivers were swell people, and his boss was a great guy. Slowly, Kris thought, it wouldn’t be okay to just jump off the eighth floor. But the loneliness of the hospital was alternately convincing. Go ahead, just push off.

After the truck was settled, the shipment processed and supplies waiting to zip up to the floor, Kris headed for the cafeteria. Just a dream, some rest, he mused, and quickly escaped the misadventures of the back warehouse. As he entered the whiter halls of the hospital, many worries and cares flew from his face. The freedom to be a person, unknowable in all its glory, was ever present in the center of the hospital. Kris entered the cafeteria, noticed the vast emptiness of its body, and crashed into a booth hidden on the far side of the room. Momentary respite, Kris lingered into sleep abysmal.


Kris took off his beaten tennis shoes. He placed them next to his dog
Peanut. A gorgeous, buxom red head entered from the bathroom. Kris stood at
the edge of the bed. She slowly undressed him. She was already naked. They
got into bed. The humping wrecked the bed. An elderly man came
from the living room. He was smoking a fat cigar. He cackled. Kris didn't
want to wake. He could feel himself near climax.


Kris woke suddenly, determined to write down his dream. He noticed the clock had gained two hours, however, and punched his leg. When he returned to the warehouse, his boss was slightly angered. He asked where Kris had been, what he was thinking and that this kind of thing shouldn’t happen again. Kris nodded, total agreement, and reminded himself he didn’t care. This job was temporary, a means to save money for grander schemes, for better written days of lust and slovenliness. He paced over to his stack of supplies and readied himself to head onto the floor. Got to restock, he told himself, and noticed his fellow workers sat in the back rows, sleeping. Fuck, he wheeled a cart onto the floor and thought again of his dream.


A giant lizard sat on his face. He screamed. Where was his boss? Where
were the other employees? He was trapped in a box of light bulbs. The lust
inside him gave him wood. He felt the box suddenly damp with water. The witch
he was afraid of as a child licked his face and said, "be careful."


As Kris finished his final restock, he left his cart to the nurses and their station. He escaped into the quiet waiting room behind the glass doors of the heart center. The regular hours of this particular special room were only in the morning, and in this, Kris was truly safe. But he still felt timid, slightly afraid of the punishment should he be found out. Damn the consequences, he thought once more of his girl asleep with their cat, and jumped upon a computer in the far corner of the room.

The key to the job, to the late shift, as in all things, was the small moments of freedom afforded. It was the irregularity of escapist moments that lulled Kris into staying on the job. He had wanted to quit many times for many months, but he thought different upon remembering the odd night of the obese woman in the wheelchair, the swath of blood left in the ER, the old man talking smooth and fancy, the doctors with their invisible persons, the emptiness of the garage parking lot and the dawning of the sun. Kris remembered these elements when the worst of the nights came. Sure, it’s hard to stay awake when your body is convulsing from weariness, but.

Kris carefully recounted his dream in the body of an email he was sending to himself. This was his method while trapped in the hospital. He felt it a lifeline to the outside world. The tap of the keys, the reassurance of a blank screen, and suddenly he was home again. Oh great lust, he thought, and concentrated. He typed for minutes, quickly scribbling down images and conditions to structure his dream then emailed himself. Kris sat back in his chair and rested a moment. There is no sleepiness on the third shift, merely existence or inexistence. The dance between the two was exasperating. Kris kidded himself and rose from the computer. He thought better of returning to the warehouse, then reminded himself of his girl and cat. Kris marched back through the glass doors, retrieved his cart, and plunged back into the stomach of the hospital elevator. He sank, but everything was okay.

hospital dream blues

by Kris

I saw the girl

reptile boots jump me down



my friends oh lonely

I never heard so much kitten talk

of mewl faced

nurses I eat the night

but lightbulbs

and madness some

ambulance come over to cripple

to crash

red dresses and cash

spilled on beaches

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