Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday - Anencephalic Behavior, Part 2

Okay, back by special request from the wonderful Ms. Animatrixie, I present to you a second installment of "what the heck were you thinking?"

Without a long, drawn-out explanation of what I'm doing, here we go ...

When I was young, my father became ill. He had chronic asthma, as do I, but after he turned 40 or so, it came back upon him with a vengeance and fervor as in no time before in his life. He actually had a sudden respiratory arrest episode complete with emergency room code blue calls and that tunnel-of-light thing so many have claimed to experience. After this, he spent many days in the hospital, some of them in ICU with a mobile-base oxygen tank so he could use the bathroom.

Anyway, on one of my visits to see him, I assisted him to the bathroom, and then went to find my way to the cafeteria for something to drink.

As I wandered through the antiseptic hallways, in those days still painted stark white, I followed the ambiguously labeled signs toward the cafe. Of course, the signs become more and more jargon-laden as I entered the bowels of the hospital, and I quickly realized that I'd probably drifted into an area in which I wasn't supposed to be. There were laboratories and testing rooms, patients huddled under faded robes, clutching them closed at the neck and rocking back and forth with sunken jaundiced eyes. The corridors echoed with soft moans of suffering and sickness above the constant hum of the fluorescent lights. I knew I'd definitely made a wrong turn somewhere, and as I was starting to worry about contracting something viral and fatal, I saw an orderly ambling about near a junction of two hallways.

He was opening doors and shuffling in, taking things off a cart with him into each room, then he'd return a moment later and push the cart forward to the next room. I started toward him, and as I approached him, he eyed me suspiciously while he opened a door beside us.

"HEY!" a voice cried from inside the room.

The orderly jumped about half a meter in start to the sudden bellow, and we both looked into the room.

There was a man, lying on his back, with a white tube running from what I can only describe as a bucket of paint up his -- well. You get the image. It was a charming scene, with a heavy-set, elderly man with his back covered in gray, matted hair, his hospital gown spilling uselessly down the sides of the examination table, liver spots and wrinkles displayed in all their splendor for us to see, with a white tube protruding from between his flabby butt cheeks.

"CLOSE THE DAMNED DOOR!" he shouted at us, his flabby second chin waggling wildly as he flailed one gnarled hand at us.

"What the hell you doin' in here, man??" the orderly countered.

Now, I ask you -- implore you -- what kind of a question is that?!

I couldn't resist.

"His ass stopped in for a milkshake, and he came along for the ride," I said flatly. Then I walked away, leaving the orderly dumb-struck and the angry barium enema patient shouting again for privacy.

I never found the cafeteria, but I did find a vending machine.


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