31. CHARITY HOSPITAL part IX

My fever was getting worse. I was shivering and my feet would jerk in spasm. “There could be be an infection at the surgery site or on his tailbone”, said Dr. Fontenot to my mother. “What can we do?” “We’ve started some antibiotics and his temperature should come down soon. If not, we can use a refrigeration mat”. “His father’s coming down shortly”, Mom said quietly. “I haven’t told Brom yet, but he’s afraid he might not get another chance to see him”. “Ms. De Julio says there is an available isolation room at University of Washington Hospital?” “Yes that’s true, she told me this morning”. “We’ll do everything we can to get him stabilized well enough to make the transfer.”

Suddenly, there was a commotion and people came over and started looking out the window that was next to my bed. “Good Heavens! Gasps, Oh my God! William came into the ward and up to us. “Two people just jumped from the roof. Must’ve been some sort of suicide pact!” My morbid curiosity was aroused but obviously I wasn’t getting up to look out the window. “The girl didn’t make it all the way”, William continued, “She landed on a balcony three floors below us”. The man had succeeded in clearing the building and his now lifeless body was embedded in the soft turf outside the hospital entrance.

Dr. Fontenot had left and Mom, William and I shared looks with each other. “We’ve got to get out of here”, I mouthed slowly.

My friend from work, Molly, came into the room with some flowers in her hand. “They weren’t going to let me in to see you”, she said, coming up to my bed and introducing herself to William and Mom. “How’re ye feelin’ Honey? Yer lookin’ good!” she said reassuringly. Mom explained, “William is staying here during the day and I’m here at night so that Brom’s never alone”. Well then, dear, since I’m away at work all day, I’d like you to come stay with me.” “Really?” cried Mom. “That’d be a Godsend!” “No use wastin’ money on no motel anyhow”, Molly replied. William stayed behind with me while Mom and Molly went off to collect her things and move over to Molly’s Garden District home.

“Have they removed the bodies yet?” said Glenda, taking off some rubber gloves from a procedure she’d completed across the ward from us. “No, but at least they’re draped”, replied William, still looking out the window. “Stuff like that happens here a lot”, continued Glenda. “Remember that sniper on the roof of the Howard Johnson a few years ago?”

“Mister Wikstorm?” said a young female phlebotomist, carrying her tray of needles, tubes, vials and sanitary wipes. “Wikstrom, actually”, said William, correcting her. “Well, I’ve got an order for a blood test?” she said questioningly. “Yeah, that’s right”, said Glenda. “We’ll need a fresh reading to see about his fever’”.  She started laying out her supplies and draped the side of the area under my arm. Of all the places where I had no sensation, the crook of my arm wasn’t one of them. I grimaced deeply while she struggled to find a vein. “I’m sorry”, she said. I’m afraid we’ll need to order a cut-down”. Glenda had warned me about this. If a vein wasn’t readily apparent, then a deep incision would be made in the shoulder and access would be more likely. Naturally, I had complete sensation there too and had hoped I might avoid the painful procedure. “I’ll be back later”, she said and retreated from my bedside.

“Man, that’s a crazy scene out there”, said Cassidy, walking up to the side of my bed. “Police tape all over and extra security inside. At least I talked them into letting me bring this in”, he said patting a tote bag with something big inside it. “I went up to your place to bring you that smoke and Marino told me what happened. I couldn’t believe it!” He said, looking over at William who introduced himself and pulled a chair over. “I know there’s not much any of us can do but I was thinking this might help a little”, he said and lifted the bag onto his lap. Out he pulled a mini television set. “This should keep you distracted, it’s only black and white but I even have an extension cord if we need.” He looked around for a wall plug. “Here’s one”. William scrounged up a nursing table and wheeled it over and Cassidy switched it on and pulled the antenna out and swiveled it until he got a picture to come through. The familiar opening strains to Bonanza sounded through the thin speakers. I remembered it playing in the bar where Douglas and I used to drink after work.

“That’s really great, Thanks Cassidy”, said my brother. “It’s nothin’, I only wish there was more I could do, really”. He put his hand on my shoulder. “I won’t forget you, I know you’re gonna pull through this”. He could read my lips and I nodded a bit. “Thank you”.