Chapter the Third: A place of life and death
“I was really shot, wasn’t I?” Trent asked the nurse who, just a minute before, had barged into the room demanding that Marcus and Jared leave immediately. Jared and Marcus had been reluctant to go, but a stern look from this well practiced tank of a woman had made them lose all resolve, and so now it was just Trent and the nurse and the beeping of the machine that watched his pulse.
“Yes.” The curt answer of a woman who is running on three hours of sleep and ten cups of coffee; a woman that had gone through this conversation a thousand times before. The person in the bed’s name and features may change, but ultimately, it was the same person in that bed every time. And almost always, they said the same thing.
“It’s so strange. I mean, I barely feel any different. There’s not any pain…”
“Mmhm.” The kid didn’t think there was pain now, but when some of the drugs wore off, he would start complaining just like all the rest of them.
Trent was curiously padding his fingers around his side, where the bullet wound was covered with gauze. “Don’t really feel anything painful at all…”
“Don’t do that.” She said. I’m going to bring in some food. A doctor will be here shortly.” She started for the door.
“Oh, I’m not hungry.”
The nurse pivoted on one of her heals. “You will eat.” The tone of someone that spoke edicts not to be questioned.
“Yes’m.” came the speedy and meek reply. Trent waited for the nurse to go. Instead her brow only furled. “Uh… something wrong?” Trent was actually afraid she was going to yell at him.
“Your pulse… are you dead or somethin’?” she said in a flat dudgeon.
Trent realized that the heart-beat monitor was no longer beeping. It was simply ejaculating a flat line sound. “Whoa. Do corpses talk often?” Trent chuckled light-heartedly.
“Stupid thing is busted.” The nurse hit the EKG with a hard chop. After a second, the beeping started normally again. “There.”
The nurse started for the door again, and then looked back, briefly, at the boy in the bed. For a second there her heart had actually leapt with excitement like in the old days, but it was no use. Nothing special here.
The names and faces may change, but ultimately, the patient in the bed is always the same. Just another person like all the rest. She shrugged off the feeling and went back to her duties. No rest for the wicked after all…
Trent was not left to marvel over his experience for long before a doctor rushed in, accompanied by a much younger, less swarthy-looking nurse. “What? Are you alive?”
“Why does everyone ask me that?” asked Trent with a smirk.
The doctor explained being called down about the EKG flat lining. As soon as he had ascertained the mundaneness of the situation, much like Trent’s nurse, the doctor was all business, waiving away the young nurse, and barely pausing to note Trent’s remarkable recovery. He did some standard tests. Doctor stuff that all doctors do, then he gently prodded Trent’s side wound. Trent wondered what the nurse would think of that.
“That’s odd. You’ve made one of the speediest comebacks I’ve yet seen.” The doctor paused to write something on Trent’s clipboard.
“Uh hey, doc…”
“I was wondering... did I go into surgery?”
“Of course. You were in the ER for a while. Collapsed lung, internal bleeding. You were even clinically dead for about twenty seconds. Real mess. Luckily we had your blood type on hand.”
“My blood type?”
“Yeah, rare…ish. AB. Hard to find sometimes in this day and age when people don’t really donate out of… I don’t know-- selfish cowardice is the only way I would describe someone not willing to give blood-- anyways, we had a few pints on hand, luckily.”
“Uh, nothing. I just… uh, I promise to donate when I get better. I’m gonna live my life different.”
“You know a sad fact? I’ve seen drunk drivers, prostitutes, gang-bangers, and chain smokers all look death in the eyes and say that. All of them repent on their near-death bed. But you know what?”
“I could equate the number of them that actually change their lives for the better with another blood type.”
“I really don’t follow you…”
“Sorry. Erudite doctor joke. The blood type is O. As in zero people really change. They all live their lives like they always did. A week after being discharged, the heart attack victim will be eating bratwurst and drinking beer. The crazy motorcyclist goes back to doing stupid stunts on his hog. Everyone has the same story. That’s the sad fact. No one ever really changes.” The doctor looked wistfully out the window. Then he remembered his duties and started to make a quick exit.
“I hope, Mr. Reeves, that you do make a change for the better. But--and no offense intend ended here-- I doubt you will. I have yet to see anyone transcend themselves in my tenure here. Adieu.” In a flash the doctor was gone.
Trent thought about the jaded man’s words for a while, and then he went back to reliving his experience for what would be just one more of countless times.