Posts Tagged ‘Patient’

Once You Get To Know Him (Short Story Excerpt)

October 23, 2016

January 4th, 2017.

Stark City, Oregon.

9:11 p.m.

“He’s a great guy,” they all said, “once you get to know him.” He being Gulstan Clay; a shy, slender young man who worked in Patient Transport at Stark County Medical Center. They being the rest of the staff. Doctors. Nurses. Technicians. Transporters. Clerks. Engineers. Janitors. Everyone loved Gulstan.

Everyone, except Heather Hewitt. Heather didn’t even like Gulstan, mush less love him. And she sure as hell didn’t want to get to know him any more than she already had.

No way.

“Cozy back there, sweetheart?”

Heather, semiconscious, mewled in frustration. She lay bound, gagged, and barefoot on the cold metal floor of Gulstan’s van. The carpet had been removed, and it smelled of bleach. Pungent and ominous.

Think I’m…gonna…puke…

Gulstan laughed. “Don’t worry. It takes awhile to get where we’re going, but it’ll be a smooth ride.”

Heather shuddered; didn’t dare open her eyes. Confusion intermingled with drowsiness inside her brain. The cord around her ankles and wrists chaffed her delicate skin. The back of her neck ached with a cold electrical burn. The duct tape over her lips felt sticky and stifling. All around, equipment rattled with the van’s movement. Tools, chains, buckets—perhaps a shovel or two.

God knew what else.

Fucking…bastard…

Lying there, Heather’s thoughts drifted back to the very beginning. To six months ago: July Fourth, 2016. She’d had to work, but it had been a slow Independence Day for the E.R. At lunch, she’d gone to the cafeteria with several coworkers. Ten minutes into her break, a young man in blue scrubs sat down opposite her. He had spiked black hair and wore a crooked, anxious smile. Heather noticed severe razor burn around his jawline. A fellow nurse named Blanche introduced them:

“Heather, meet Gulstan. Gulstan, meet Heather.”

She’d smiled and said hello. Gulstan looked uncomfortable, explaining that he’d just started in Transport; the new kid in town. Heather couldn’t remember her response, but Gulstan said, “Nice to meet you.” Simple as that. Heather resumed eating and gossiping with Blanche, and hadn’t even noticed when Gulstan left the table.

How could she have guessed that such an innocent meeting could lead to this?

“Oh, uh…it might get a little bumpy for the last mile or so, sweetheart. Sorry about that.”

Gulstan had put a pillow beneath Heather’s head, and now she buried her face into it.

Sweet…heart? I’m not…not your…sweet…

After that unremarkable day in the cafeteria, Heather returned to work as usual, never knowing that she’d just caused an avalanche in Gulstan’s fragile world. Two days later, she’d met Gulstan again—this time in the E.R. He’d arrived to wheel one of her patients to the x-ray room. Except Gulstan had seemed more interested in her than in doing his job. He wanted to become a nurse, he’d said, just like Heather. Then he’d begun asking questions. How long had she been a nurse? When did she graduate nursing school? Did she like it? What made her decide to be a nurse?

On and on, until Heather had to excuse herself. She’d felt annoyed, but also sorry for Gulstan. He seemed a bit awkward; unsure of himself. Lonesome.

“You know…I first met you about a year ago. Heck, I guess there’s no harm in telling you this now. But, uh, I was goaded by my old boss into going down to that strip club you used to work at…”

No…don’t…

Choking back tears, Heather sighed into the pillow. Wishing with all her heart that she didn’t have to hear the rest. Because she already knew.

Don’t…say…

The third time Heather met Gulstan, she’d just exited Intensive Care when he appeared at her side. He’d seemed nervous, stammering as he asked Heather to help him prepare for nursing school. That’s when Heather felt the first twinge of dislike, and she reacted by saying that she didn’t have the time. She’d also mentioned that her boyfriend might get jealous if she accepted.

Heather didn’t have a boyfriend, but her gut had told her to lie. And Heather always listened to her gut.

“Yeah. As soon as we walked in, I saw you up on that stage. Naked as a jaybird, too! I thought, ‘what’s a beautiful girl like her doing in a place like this?’ I’m really glad you don’t work there anymore, sweetheart. It’s best for us.”

Glad? Us?

Heather swallowed around a knot in her throat, worked her lips against the tape. She’d danced at Le Club du Mal, the classiest erotic nightclub in Stark City, for two years to help pay for nursing school. She’d even danced part-time for awhile afterward. And she’d never had any reason to regret it…until now.

Sick…

One day, Gulstan approached Heather in the cafeteria, offering to buy her lunch—anything she wanted. But Heather refused, reminding Gulstan of her jealous boyfriend. After that, Gulstan kept his distance, smiling and waving from afar; saying hello whenever they passed in the hallways. Heather felt good that she’d been nice in blowing him off.

Then things got weird. Fast.


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Thank you for reading!

JLR

In Spite Of Her Will (Short Story Excerpt)

January 13, 2015

January 11th, 2016.
Stark City, Oregon.
8:49 a.m.

Nurse Vanna Meadows didn’t want to go into the room at the end of the hall, but she had no choice. She’d avoided it as long as she could, and now her job demanded it. Demanded that she complete her patient rounds. And her conscience demanded that she do everything in her power to help that poor old man.

Goddamnit…why didn’t he ask the doctor for help? Why did he have to ask me? I’m just a nurse…a lowly goddamn nurse who doesn’t want any part of this!

With a mournful sigh, Vanna left the nurses’ station and started down the hall. Toward the room. Toward the emaciated old man whom Vanna wished she’d never met.

Toward the biggest, momentous decision of her young life.

Even now, Nurse Meadows didn’t know what she’d do once she stepped inside. She knew she’d see her patient lying there, hooked up to the heart monitor and inching ever toward the end of his long life. Perhaps beseeching her again with his kind yet weary gaze. Perhaps reaching out to her in his innocent yet cruel way; gnarled hand extended like a beggar seeking alms. Except in this case, alms meant quite a bit more than money, or even food. It meant the ultimate sacrifice.

Maybe he’ll be sleeping this time, Vanna thought, scrubs rustling, shoes squeaking against the tile floor as she meandered along. Maybe I can put it off for awhile…

Though twenty-three–young by adult standards–and just seven months into her job, Nurse Meadows had never given her career choice a second thought. She’d gone through nursing school with an ease which had earned her the jealousy of her peers, and had set her sights on a position at Stark City’s most prominent hospital: Stark County Medical Center. Once hired at SCMC, she’d been placed on the sixth floor telemetry unit, and in the previous seven months she’d seen it all. Heart attack victims, stroke victims, crash victims, and every other form of rotten luck made manifest in the physical world. And none of it had bothered her. Not the blood, the sobbing of family members, or the endless echoes of grief in the sterile halls. Vanna prided herself on being just as, if not more, professional than the nurses twice her age.

But all of that changed the day they wheeled Hubert Cranleigh up to her floor and left the ancient man in her charge. That had been a week ago. Prior to this transfer, Hubert had languished in the intensive care unit following a massive heart attack. At age ninety-one, his recovery had been less than ideal. But the doctor and ICU nurses had done their jobs and gotten him stabilized. Hubert could open his eyes and talk for brief periods of time; even making sense every once in awhile. So things had been looking up for everyone involved–

Then tragedy struck.

One night, Hubert’s eighty-nine year old wife, Lois, had slipped and fallen in the rest home and broken much more than her hip. She’d been rushed to Stark County Medical just as Hubert had, but even emergency surgery hadn’t been able to save her. And the single worst moment of Vanna’s life had been when she’d stood by as the doctor informed Hubert that his wife had died. That, because of Hubert’s delicate condition, he couldn’t be moved–even by wheelchair–to Lois’s room. Which meant that poor old Hubert had already seen his beloved wife for the last time.

No book, no song, no poem could ever describe the utter heartbreak Vanna saw in Hubert’s eyes that ruinous day. Hubert didn’t just cry, he bled pure sorrow from every pore of his withered flesh. His bones rattled with every breath. His heart monitor jounced in time to the childlike blubbering which still rang in Nurse Meadows’ ears.

Damnit! Vanna thought, slowing her pace even more. Halfway down the hall now, the syringe in her pocket bounced against her leg. A heavy reminder of the heavy decision she’d almost made.

I don’t know if I can do this, Mr. Cranleigh. I really, really don’t…


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“In Spite of Her Will” was featured in The Borfski Press, Issue #2.

Buy The Borfski Press Issue #2 in both print and digital format here:

https://theborfskipress.com/2017/06/19/issue-ii-out-now/

Thank you for reading!

JLR


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