ER 22

ER 22

By Tim Ruane


“Thoughts of suicide?” she asked.

“More or less,” I responded.

I supposed she was a nurse.  Thin cotton light blue, she was in, “easy for immediate sexual transactions and transgressions,” I thought.  They were always ready for sex in the Emergency Room.

“Mother, your mother?”


There was a girl on a gurney in the hallway.  She was black, with chartreuse fluorescent hair dyed, for sure. Thin, good-looking.  Pierced lower lip.  I figured she was a drug addict—crack cocaine or heroin or somethin’.

“Her sugar level is” somethin’, somethin’ or somethin’ another, he said.  He, a guy in blue, next to her on gurney.  Deep blue, like a gas station attendant in the old days or a lazy electrician or an Emergency Medical Technician.  Non-plused.  Dark no-gray hair.  Nonneurot, had a fine mother.

It wasn’t exactly that this guy didn’t give a damn.  Had it been years ago, he would have been smokin’ Marlboro Cigarettes.  Today, he complains when his girlfriend serves him kale. 

A failed football player.  Tight end.  He went for the cheerleader leader, and got her a couple times, too.

Why do I waste my time on him, the brute?

“Do you have a plan to …”

“No.”  I cut her off.  They always ask that question, and I always tell them no.  It’s the truth, too.  I never once planned to …






“No, please, no.”

“So what brings you here tonight—this morning?”  She looked at a drunk clock on the drunk wall.  It mumbled 4:42, like a drunk.

“Huh?” I said.  I was stalling.

“What brings you here tonight?”

“I can’t stand being alive.” I said, and I meant it too.  Whatever was movin around my inner being coil and soul and what have you was, in fact, killing me.  A suicidal electrical impulse from God, maybe.  A sort of test, perhaps—not an IQ, but some kind of motherfucking test, you fuck-head.

22.  Don’t ask me why I wrote 22.  I don’t know why I wrote 22.

“Wait right here.”  Her blood pressure had gone up.  Responsibility.  Suicide.  Lawsuit.  Horror.  Incomprehensibility.  “It might be my fault,” her unconscious said.  She huffed it out like a sheep or a cow or somethin’.  For a doctor?  Maybe.  I didn’t think so.  Just some red tape piece of shit thing.

“You got to pee for me.”  That was definitely a nurse, half conscious, semi-comatose—maybe.  “Not very intelligent;  I’d do her anyway,” I thought.  She wasn’t half bad lookin’, either.  Round ass, like two perfect God-made half-moons. 

“You got to pee for me.”  Not again.  Perhaps she was a moron.  Nurse Double Entrende.  Hopeless, destined to bag bags and push carts at Safeway.  I’d still do her.

She was talkin’ to an emaciated pathetically derelict black man, in blue too; though his stuff didn’t match.  Out by the bathroom a ways from girl on the gurney.  Light blue T, dark pants, like the ETM guy.

“In the cup.  In the cup.”

That was better.  There is always hope, hope that the sun will rise in the morning.

“Your room is right here,” a second girl in thin cotton light blue said to me.  She held her arm out like a school boy safety traffic patrolman on a street corner with 22 kids.

This was for sure a nurse, Injun from Injuh.  The Welcome to the Land of the Fairies Nurse.  Some time had elapsed, too.

 “Take your clothes off,” she said.

That wasn’t what I expected to hear, and she didn’t mean it the way I wanted it to mean.

I just wanted a Valium and a pain-free life, and they laid plans to lock me up forever.


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