Spot 040: In the Waiting Room

 

IN THE WAITING ROOM
by Gita M. Smith

The damn clipboard. And its damn pen dangling on a chain, as if anyone would steal a cheap plastic Bic. Five sheets of paper to fill out, front and back if you please, and return them to the front desk when you’re through. And, oh, did I bring my medications with me?
No I did not. They don’t allow wheelbarrows on city buses.
First page: name, address, employer, employer’s address, who to call in case of emergency?
Well, sure as hell better not be my employer.
Is my illness related to a work accident? That depends. Is stupidity contagious?
Page two: Medical History. Now, that one’s interesting. The entire catalogue of defeated body parts and organ failures among my parents and siblings, laid end-to-end, would stretch from Manhattan to the North Carolina Outer Banks.
My own terrifying history, counting the minor degrading diseases like crabs and gonorrhea, would keep you up nights with the bedroom door barricaded and a gun under your pillow.
Third page: Consent to treatment. What do they think? That sick people come to their door to refuse treatment? Fucktwits.
Page four: Financial responsibility for payment. Am I the responsible party? I neatly print the name D-o-n-a-l-d T-r-u-m-p and the address of Trump Towers, New York City
Page five: What is your reason for coming today?
I hurt everywhere, I bleed from places that should not bleed. I have no hope for my future. I am scarlet with fever. I am pocked with smallness.

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.

 

 

THE WAIT
by Paul de Denus

The room where our mother dies is on the sixth floor in the palliative care unit of a hospital. The room is shared with a French Canadian woman in her early nineties. We don’t know why she is on this floor. She is recovering from a minor foot problem. Her stay is short term also but she will go home soon.

“What’s wrong with her?” the woman asks.
“She has cancer,” I reply.
The woman sports a toothless maw and softly pulls at her short gray hair.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she looks at me with pained, mothering eyes.
“That’s not good. Can you help me find my comb?”

While we wait, we periodically assist the French woman, helping her to bed, to a chair. She has the orderlies hopping, working the call button with concerned requests for lunch, medication and bathroom aid. She waits by the door, calling out to every passing person she sees.
“I need to see the doctor please! These pills aren’t working. Nothing works.”
At one point, a priest comes in to administer Communion and she is excited to partake in the prayers recited in French. On the wall above her head, hangs an upside down crucifix. I wonder if someone did that purposely. I expect the walls to crack, the ceiling to crumble and an ungodly loud voice to announce–
“So sorry! There’s been an unfortunate mistake! We only deal with the feet here!”

Defeat. Yes, that much feels true.

See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 

 

ARROCHAR AND ALEXANDRIA
by Sandra Davies

The day began in a caravan near Arrochar, Loch Long and had been long and strange enough already. Woken by a crying and miserable child, in pain, initially we sought to reassure – children get pains enough that pass away. Eventually, no reason emerging we took him to a local surgery where, having seen him vomit copiously into a flower bed, the sympathetic patients in the day’s first waiting room made us go first.
Strongly suspected appendicitis and sent us down the narrow-roaded length of Loch Lomond, against the Friday never-ending current of weekend traffic. Arrived in splendid-sounding Alexandria to be dealt with kindness and with care and while the other offspring were taken off for much belated fish and chips, I waited beside the bed to reassure.
When they finally wheeled him into theatre my tight-held control relaxed and bowels to instant water – so poetic, but such pain! – and then the final waiting room, wherein I read a biography of Dirk Bogarde who, poor man, remained forever after associated with that night.

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 

 

IN THE STARK WHITE WAITING ROOM
by Michael D. Brown

Sitting where they left me after changing into a hospital johnnie, ready to take part in some experiment no one’s explained yet. Wait here, they said, but I’ve been waiting, what, three or four hours? No clock here.
Getting hungry—probably near dinner time already…must’ve dozed off, recalling past events—things I forgot I knew…waiting and waiting. I should push that red button to call someone. Let them know I’m starting to feel a little anxious. Don’t know where any of those doors lead, but hesitate to show my exasperation. Might be disqualified.
Told me the experiment required someone with great patience; good money in it if all goes well, but four and a half hours is a long frigging time to wait just to get started. I can put up with a lot of things, probably this too, if I knew what it was all about. I did hear what looked like two orderlies snickering. Could’ve been sharing a private joke. I shouldn’t let it get to me. I really need the dough. I could…
Nah, hell, can’t take this anymore. I’m no sucker. Must be another way to make some money—maybe give blood or something. Got to call someone and get out of here. I’m pressing the button!

One of the doors opens.
An attendant comes in, looking at a stopwatch, and says, “Hmmm, seventy-seven minutes. Not so long as some, but longer than most,” then adds, “Come with me, sir, and we’ll get you your check.”

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 


Illustrations for Spot 040 supplied by Gita Smith and by Sandra Davies.

 

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3 Comments to “Spot 040: In the Waiting Room”

  1. Gosh, these are good. Wow. Interesting that we all chose medical waiting rooms and not, say, train stations or bus terminals. Paul, you really brought it this week. The upside down crucifix. Defeat. Excellent.
    Michael, your strange experiment had me wondering if this weren’t some government experiment. Or if you were going to have to take an experimental drug. Getting paid to be patient, though, that’s so much more original.
    Sandra, I couldn’t decide if this was fiction or non, it was written so realistically. Excellent last line. Poor Dirk. Was that his real name? Enjoyed this batch a lot.

  2. The writing? – excellent without doubt, particularly Gita’s stream of consciousness thoughts on filling in a form, and Paul’s comment on the upside down crucifix but its vivid reality made me uncomfortable on behalf of the stranger-interruptions to what was his mother’s drama (and can no longer assume it’s fiction in view of #38) and on Michael’s behalf – the snickering in the corridor too reminiscent.
    Mine was certainly non-fiction – and Dirk Bogarde something of a heart-throb actor, born Derek ven den Bogaerde if I remember rightly. (And I had a bus station in mind but could make nothing of it except mindless, wordless waiting)

  3. Love the prompt and the results. You folks rock.

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