By: Richard Tattoni
“Don’t you like it here, Dick?” asked Dr. Everything-Will-Be-Alright.
It was the oldest hospital in the city. I was in the emergency room. To be honest, there wasn’t a hospital room on the planet where I would want to stay. My last surgery, ten years ago, was done by Dr. Feelgood. I saw stars when I had the hip surgery. God, it hurt. But this was far worse. I was always bad with names, but Dr. Feelgood got to talking about heavy metal albums, before I went under. Doc told me he felt good. Next thing you know, I was sedated. Whenever I got a needle, everything numbed and I got to thinking about pink bunny rabbits and lazy flamingos. Flinching from sharp reoccurring pain, I was brought back to a dingy emergency room. I came to the hospital with some throbbing around the chest, but it turned much worse. There was a pounding in chest and I thought I was going to die.
“Everything hurts something fierce.” I winced again.
“Oh, you’ll be up in no time. You can see the street from outside of the corner window. You’ll be alright,” Dr. Everything-Will-Be-Alright said.
“I can’t get out of this hospital bed,” I said.
“Give it time,” he said.
“This is no vacation,” I said and jostled around.
“No,” he said. “No.” He turned away. I slumped back down in the bed. The hospital smelled distinctly familiar, but it was like the white room was closing in and suddenly I was claustrophobic and I thought my next breath would be my last. What if I would never wake up again?
“I’m going to die,” I said and I could hardly breathe.
“Nurse,” the doctor ordered her closer.
“Yes,” the nurse said.
“Inject the patient with Lot Eleven.” The doctor turned to me. “It’s a chemical compound,” he said. It sounded familiar, like something I’d read from a book. Soon my mind would be in a different space and time.
“This won’t hurt,” the nurse said, strapping me down and trapping me with a needle.
“Shit,” I said. It wouldn’t be a soft needle.
“You won’t feel a bowel movement. You won’t feel anything,” the doctor said. “Nurse,” he instructed, “We need a catheter.” The doctor was deathly calm. What if I would die alone and they never got a hold of my family? I watched everything in a blur. The middle-aged nurse with red hair injected my arm. Dizziness at first, a tingling and then peace.
The nurse and doctor exited the room. I fell asleep and never felt anything except my body moving to a different place in time.
What’s the doctor’s name?
Swoosh. Swoosh. The wind blew behind me and I stood tall and started walking. All of a sudden, I was sixty years younger, holding my wife’s hand tightly on a romantic getaway. She was alive and we were alone on vacation in Italy.
There was a beautiful view overlooking Florence from the hill. I was standing and gripping her hand, like she was heaven and I didn’t want to let go. I sneezed and sniffed almost violently. My nose was congested. I had to pull my hand away gently. I discretely took a step back. Sniffling again, something was lodged inside my nose. It was annoying. I took my finger and began digging. First, I was digging around the edges, and then I went deeper inside my nose until half of my index finger was buried inside. I carefully picked out green and brown boogers. It was relief. I wiped my hand clean on the blades of grass behind me and went back to holding my wife’s hand. She was beguiled by the view and didn’t notice my incident until she might have clued in when she saw my face, but she smiled sweetly. I would never know if she knew the truth about the ugly situation from the vacation.
Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh.
I woke up and I was back in the hospital bed. There was no pain, except the pain from losing my wife, but I had my family. A male nurse with a moustache and dark tan leaned over and handed me a cup of water. Everything was white in the room with curtains and apparatus. I sipped water from the plastic cup. “Dick, your daughter and her newborn baby are waiting to see you.”
God, I wanted to see them. “Bring them in, please!”
“Meet baby Dick,” my daughter said.
“He’s named after you,” my son-in-law said.
“Bring him closer,” I said and I didn’t feel eighty on my death-bed, ready to meet God. It was the spark of life I had been waiting for all these years. It was a miracle. They rushed to my side, carrying my grandson tightly with apprehensive smiles.
“Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay,” I sang jubilantly.
“You must be feeling better,” the nurse said.
“I am,” I said happily.
“I’m glad we made you excited,” she said.
God, I felt so young.