I should’ve been thinking about how I was gonna get around for the next few months. If the softball sized lump on my head was gonna cause permanent damage. But, I wasn’t.
I could’ve been bleeding internally. Maybe had whip lash. I should’ve been thinking about other things. Like if the other guy’s auto insurance was gonna cover everything that just happened. But, I wasn’t. I had other things on my mind. Like Carrianne, and how I was gonna introduce her to the nurse or the doctor when he asked her relationship to me. I thought of the following.
Think, she’s a friend, or I’m dating her. Or she’s my partner, or a really good friend of mine who I want as a girlfriend, but too much of a wuss to ask.
That’s what I was thinking about. That’s what filled the time as the medics transferred me from the ambulance to the ER room.
I knew it was gonna come sooner or later. I knew after a few moments of her standing next to my bed, following me from one pit stop to the next that someone would eventually grab my chart, ask me how I was feeling, and ask who she is.
I could fake pass out. I could right when a doctor, a nurse or whomever asks, just jump right into convulsions. Seizures. Or simply yell in pain. But, I didn’t. I simply acted as if I didn’t hear a thing. I spaced out. Went into my own world. I became the little wavy red line that beeped every so often from some guy’s heart monitor that was across from my own.
She said, “I’m his girlfriend.”
Pinch yourself on the arm. Give yourself more pain than you’re already in to see if you are actually awake. It could be worse, you could’ve been dreaming.
Ouch, that hurt. Let’s hear it again.
The male nurse said, “What is your relationship to this young man?”
Think a moment of silence. Think I am the heart beat.
Carrianne answers, “I’m his girlfriend!”
My eyes opened back up. I’m not playing dead raccoon any longer. Those words she spoke were like a tattoo that was stitched into my head, making me feel woozy from the pain, but euphoric at the same time like a huge shot of vicodin.
They made me feel the following.
Think, sudden high blood pressure. Racing heart beat. Dilated pupils.
I should’ve been thinking about if my medical insurance was gonna cover everything. If someone called my work and told them I wasn’t gonna be in today. But, I wasn’t. I just fell in love.
The nurse began flashing bright beams of light into my eyes. He started flashing his index finger from left to right in front of my face. He was checking for the following.
Think, blurred vision. Seeing double.
His face was so close to mine that we were nearly just about to touch noses, but outta the corner of my left eye, I saw a glimpse of my shoes. My favorite ones. Black imported Italian leather. Size 8 1/2. Made for comfort. Made for people on their feet all day.
At the tip of my left shoe, I saw a smudge. I immediately wished right then that I had shoe polish. I hoped to God that it would be able to come out later. I should’ve been thinking about how long I was gonna be at the hospital. If my insurance company covers rental. But, I wasn’t.
The male nurse says, “What?” As his face becomes zoomed in like a camera on auto-focus. He thought I was looking at him the whole time. He probably thought I was staring at him waiting for an update to how I’m checking out so far. If I’m gonna live or not. But, I wasn’t. Didn’t even think about it. Not even after that stupid rotten car made contact with mine.
Now, you ask the following.
Think, what happened?
Picture a sunny morning. Carrianne and I are driving in my car. I was taking her home because it was time for me to go to work. I could tell you a million different things I was thinking about while I was driving, but one important thing that stuck in my mind was how happy I was that Carrianne slept over at my house the night before.
I don’t notice too many beautiful things at seven in the morning, but Carrianne changed my perspective on that one. Even that early in the day she still looked beautiful. Picture the following.
Jet black hair scrunched up on top of her head. Those almond-like eyes piercing even smaller every time the sun light came through the windshield and gave glare into her solid black frames. Small hands cupped together like a child trying to catch each rain drop that fell from the ground. Then, there was her smile, so bright that you couldn’t help, but smile back.
I remember a song came on the radio that I liked and I turned it up. I remember bouncing up and down in my car, driving to the music as I made Carrianne laugh.
I love when I make her laugh. Then, she cupped her hand into mine.
We were driving down the road about to cross an intersection when a big white van made a left without paying attention to us coming through. I stepped on my brakes to slow down, but continued driving, cursing whomever was in the driver’s seat as we passed.
“You piece of shit!” I yelled.
That made Carrianne laugh. She said I looked cute when I was angry.
Then, the car right behind the van began to turn left, but stopped when he saw us coming. But, for some odd reason, continued turning anyhow.
Think of a traffic jam. Think of the stop and go routine. That’s what the car did. It stuttered for a split second in the middle of the intersection and turned anyway. The left side of his car met the right side of mine, and the impact sent me flying head first to kiss the windshield. I remember hearing sounds of things crunching together. That noise of shattering. It could’ve been the car. It could’ve been my head. Who knows at that point.
Carrianne had her seatbelt on, so she just lunged forward a bit and slammed right back into her seat. My car, however, continued driving on it’s own off the road and up a green hill. I slammed on my brakes once again as hard as my foot would allow, hoping I wouldn’t hit the pole that was meeting us at the top of the hill. I only saw the pole because it was seen on Carrianne’s side of the windshield. My side had that spider web look. For a moment, I had the sight of a fly.
My right arm went out, holding onto Carrianne, as another safety device so she wouldn’t move anywhere from her seat and kiss the windshield like I did.
The car stopped finally, so did the rest of the traffic.
I think I yelled, “Are you ok?”
I think I turned the engine off. I might’ve got out of the car, and walked over to Carrianne’s side, opening the car door to let her out. I couldn’t say for sure because after all that I simply lost time, and found myself on the ground being held by some other woman who had my head in her lap, her hand stroking the small hairs on my head.
“It’ll be ok,” I think she said very delicately.
I had on the following.
Think, black two piece, three button-up suit. White button-up shirt pressed medium. Black imported Italian leather shoes. Two cell phones. One for business. One for pleasure. Black leather wallet that zipped up on the side, and could be taken apart if I didn’t feel like having a bulge in the back of my ass.
I should’ve been asking myself what happened like you did. Or been asking who was stroking my head. Or if my car was totaled. But, I wasn’t. I was thinking more along the lines of my suit, and if it would need dry cleaning after this. If there were any rips in the seams of my pants. If my coat had any grass stains. My shoes and if they had any smudges on them.
But, I simply lost thought of that when Carrianne asked me if the man who smashed into my car could use my cell phone.
Then, the ambulance came.
That’s how one man with a girl in his head gets from here to there. That’s how I, whose always been known to take anything to extreme, falls in love. Screw the dinner and the movie routine. Screw a nice walk on the beach, and whispering dumb one-liners into her ears. I make it exciting. Fall in love the old fashion way. Make it depend on life or death.
In the old days, a man would kill another man for the one he loved. He would commit suicide if he couldn’t have her. He would journey to the depths of hell and back just to find her if she was gone. Lost or kidnapped.
I did one better, I got into a car accident. That’s how I found out that Carrianne was my girlfriend, and the one I loved. But, destiny doesn’t stop there, it gets better.
So, after they gave me a CAT scan at the hospital, checking for the following.
Think, Epidural Hematoma. Intercerebral Hematoma. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Concussion.
After, they left me in a hall for an hour, talking to a guy lying in a bed next to me, who just got into a major motorcycle accident, leaving not one shred of skin on his face, who even asked me while he was drugged up, waiting for more tests if he looked ok; they found nothing, but a huge softball sized lump on the side of my head that gave me a splitting headache, and a bruise around my stomach region from the steering wheel when I was making out with the windshield.
Carrianne left without a scratch. Even without showering. Brushing her teeth. Combing her hair. She still looked as beautiful as ever. Even being involved in a major car wreck she still was able to take my breath away.
The doctor said I had the hardest head he’s ever seen. He said, “I never knew anyone who could smash the windshield with his skull and not need my services as far as stitches. Staples. Bandages. Any of that stuff. We usually find at least one piece of glass behind some hair.”
I didn’t know if I should feel blessed or thank him for such a nice honor. He kinda said it like he was handing out an Oscar.
Picture a week later, on Sunday, when Carrianne was away in Lansing getting the rest of her things, so she could move in with me. The car wreck, believe it or not, became the turning point in our relationship.
Picture me waking up in the morning and feeling like my insides were hog tied to my hands and feet, making me stuck in the fetal position, and anytime I moved from that position, I cursed myself because it hurt so bad. I told myself this is the worst stomach ache I have ever had.
I remember after a few hours of moaning in bed, I finally got up and went to the grocery store. I must’ve looked like an old man because I was hunched over, walking from aisle to aisle looking for the stomach medicine. I found it and hobbled my way to the check line.
I went home. I took about four pills of the following.
Think, extra-strength Tums. Pepcid AC. Pepto-Bismol, Alka Seltzer.
I put myself down on the couch. I tried going number two about four different times, but nothing came out. I even sat on the toilet and read a whole magazine about hunting gear, rifles, and fishing poles that The Grizz left out whenever he went number two. But, that still didn’t help in relaxing my stomach. So, I went back to the couch. I knew it would pass eventually. I hoped it was like the headache you got when you went through caffeine withdrawal. The type of headache that wouldn’t go away no matter how many aspirin you ate. you would just have to sleep it off. So, that’s what I tried to do. But, it wouldn’t work. My insides felt like they were ready to burst. They went from tying me up like a cow to tying me and hanging me up like a chandelier.
Think of that time when you were pinched so hard on the side of your stomach that it made you move and wiggle back and forth in pain. The type of pinch that made you yell and scream Uncle until that person let go.
Take that and times it by twenty. That’s how I felt.
If I was watching TV. I don’t remember. If I was lying there on the couch, praying for death, I don’t recall. But, I do recollect when my cel phone rang and it said in little black blinking letters “Carrianne” across the screen.
I answered immediately.
I told her my current dilemma. I used phrases like “My fuckin’ stomach” and “Haven’t eatin’ shit all day” and “I’m in so much goddamn pain that I’m gonna hang myself in the back yard”.
I used phrases like “I’m gonna fuckin’ die” and “Life sucks!”
Then, Carrianne spoke, her voice was like a glass of cool water that slid down my throat when I woke up in the middle of the night from thirst. She put me into a dream-like state. She made me feel like a cloud. I became the heartbeat once again. The pulse on the monitor.
When she arrived, she said we should go to the hospital. The ER room. The place where we first fell in love. I said yes right away. Always willing to re-visit the turning point in our relationship.
The doctor in the ER room. That fucking piece of shit. That waste of human life. Argued with me when Carrianne and I first entered. I was propped up on a bed, telling him about my pain. The lower stomach region. The right side.
He asked the following.
Think, “What did you eat today?” “What kind of medication have you been taking?” “Does it hurt when you do this or that?”
I explained everything to him, and his first diagnosis was I have food poisoning. A stomach virus. E.Coli. Then, Carrianne with her sweet voice like a bird chirping at the brisk of dawn said, “It could be Appendicitis.”
The doctor shrugged. I asked where that was. Carrianne said she had hers taken out last month.
“But he’s been taking stomach medicine,” the doctor said.
“But just because I thought it might be a stomach ache moron.”
The doctor said, “But how could it be Appendicitis if you’ve been eating stomach medicine?”
“I dunno, you’re the doctor!”
Carrianne said, “You should have him check that out.”
The doctor. That fly you swat at that won’t go away. That after vomit smell in the elevator that makes you sick to your stomach. He left the room.
Carrianne was mad. I was mad. And I was still in pain.
I used phrases like “I’m gonna kill that fuckin’ guy” and “What a moron” and “If I had a stethoscope I would strangle him right now”.
Carrianne started to laugh. I love when I make her laugh.
She left the room to find another doctor. A nurse. To get a second opinion. I was left alone looking for a scalpel because I was gonna cut the whatever it was out myself. But, Carrianne came back a second later with a nurse, who simply pushed on my stomach with her two fingers. The right side. Where I had the most pain. I yelled “Dear God” as loud as I could. The nurse simply said, “Yup, it’s appendicitis.” Then, she left. Came back a second time, saying they were gonna transfer me to another hospital for surgery.
The nurse said, “An ambulance is on the way.”
Carrianne kissed me. I kissed her back. The nurse still in the room put a plunger thing into my IV, and said it’ll ease the pain. It was demoral.
I haven’t had any sorta mind altering drug in almost eight years. I forgot what getting high was like. That feeling of being lifted off the ground.
When the demoral kicked in, I had no pain whatsoever on my side. I was able to laugh again. Find humor in my current situation. I was back to my old self. I was ready to go home. And I actually tried, but Carrianne told me I was leaving soon enough.
I asked, “Are we going home?”
She said, “No.”
I laughed. Then, Carrianne laughed, probably at me. I love when I make her laugh.
The ambulance finally arrived. It was two female medics. When they came, lifting my bed up and strolling me through the hospital, I felt like a sultan being carried away on pillows. If only someone would feed me grapes.
I laughed again.
The doctor, who original saw me the first time walked by while I was leaving. I gave him the middle finger, then they popped me into the ambulance like they did when I made out with the windshield.
The downtown hospital that the medics transferred me to was like the behind the scenes look at a circus. To my left, was a fat old woman lying in bed, yelling about how uncomfortable she was.
She wanted out. She kept moaning and screaming non-stop. She had on a white, almost see through night gown on, and ever time she made one peep or sound, I always turned my head to look at her, but cursed myself after because I saw things that made me sick.
Think, fat old stretched out flesh with boobs that hung passed her belly button. Rolls upon rolls of flesh that started from her neck and draped down. No teeth. Very thin gray hair. That smooshed together face when someone grabbed your cheeks and pushed them together.
To my right, was some black guy who was freaking out about not having any drugs to lift him off. He smelled like urine, and coughed up multi-colored chunks of vomit that looked like candy with all the colors of the rainbow. His jeans were no longer blue, but shit brown. His shirt had holes in it that looked like they were torn by someone else, not ripped like when you get nagged by a nail. Even right before I entered, the medics and I saw him get tackled by three security guards, strapped to a bed, and placed next to me.
I remember hearing one of the medics say how she felt a little uncomfortable leaving me here alone. But, they left the first chance they got.
There were prostitutes in the ER room, who were just beat up. City kids who got into a knife fight, and a homeless man who fell asleep in the middle of the street, and got run over by a car.
That’s what surrounded me. That’s what I had to live with for a short amount of time while the demoral started to wear off and bring that pain back into my stomach.
One could say this wasn’t a hospital, but an insane asylum, and someone finally got there chance to lock me up for good, but we don’t need to get into logistics.
I thought about Carrianne, and how she said she was gonna follow me to the hospital. I was hoping to God she didn’t. I was scared for her. I didn’t want her to be in a place like this.
I should’ve been thinking if I was gonna get robbed. Or if some crazy crack whore was gonna stab me cause I looked like some “John” who ripped her off earlier that night. But, I wasn’t. I was thinking about purgatory, and how Carrianne doesn’t need to follow me down here. How I finally found my place. That someone finally got there wish. So, I started screaming too.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!” I yelled.
“I’M GONNA DIE! I screamed.
I tried yelling louder than others at times. I tried talking to the crack head next to me and asked him about his life so I could write it down. I even started to put my shoes back on that I hid under my knees because I didn’t want to be here any longer.
It was time for me to leave, I thought, if they let me. Of course, I had to put into perspective that I could get tackled by security guards and strapped back to my bed. I could walk out the door, and a second later, get shot by some crazy fool because who’s holding up the gift shop. Anything’s possible in a place like this. I was willing to take the chance. But, before I was able to pull the IV outta my arm, a doctor came and took me to a room that had a curtain.
He first checked my chart. He tried to say my name. Then, he asked how I was feeling.
I told him about my stomach. He lightly patted. I yelled in pain. Then, he put his finger up my butt, checking for the following.
Think, McBurney’s sings. Distention. Absent bowel sounds.
He said I had appendicitis. I wish I would’ve left when I had the chance. The doctor said I would have to go into surgery. That it would be happening today.
“What time is it?” I asked, just realizing I lost track of time and had no clue if it was still today or tomorrow.
“1 AM,” he said. “Someone will be here to take you to the operating room shortly.” Then, he left just like they always do.
Carrianne showed up a few moments later and seemed a bit at ease. She hugged me. Kissed me on the lips, then took a seat. She said she had to go through a metal detector. That everyone in the waiting room was crazy. Some were yelling for no apparent reason. Others were yelling at the front desk because they wanted to see a loved one.
She said, “They were all so angry.”
Then, I told her about the circus. And she laughed.
I love when I make her laugh.
We didn’t have much more time to talk because a nurse came by and wanted to take me upstairs. Carrianne with her worn out eyes, and sadden face said she will return tomorrow morning. I told her to sleep at my house. I told her to treat herself at home. I felt bad because she looked so tired.
We kissed again, and hugged for a few moments. I said I’d miss her, and she said the same. She started walking out, but stopped for a moment and turned around. She said, “Now we’ll have matching tattoos.”
I smiled as they rolled me to the elevator. I thought, even through all the yelling. The chaos. The fighting. The car wreck, we still found time to smile at one another. It was one of the worst moments of my life, but it was also the best.
After the surgery, the next morning, she showed me her scar and I showed her mine. It was in the same exact spot. I mean, it might not be as good as having each other’s name tattooed on our stomach, but it’s a symbol of how hard we actually had to fall just to say “I love you”. And of course we did after we left the hospital.
Think, bitter-sweet happiness.
DeLeon is finishing his short story collection, FHK Q, as well as two novels, A Blanket of Sickness and Lick Me. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.
email for Deleon Demicoli
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