White Lie –
Boom, boom, boom, his head, beating like a drum ached with no mercy as people talked around him. Vincent slowly opened his eyes to a bright yellow room and people with white coats. Several intravenous bags dangled around the bed he was strapped down to. A symphony of noisy machines beeped, chirped, and blinked as he tried to get his mind up to speed. The last thing he remembered was being on the beach. He was drinking warm champagne and vodka. Now he saw pink elephants, bears, and balloons on the walls surrounding him. Was he dreaming? He should be on the beach sick from oysters and booze.
“I see you’re awake now,” Dr. Chadmen said, next to Vincent’s bedside.
‘When did he get so close?’ Vincent thought, trying to move immobile arms.
“Things got a little rough last night, but you’re starting to stabilize. Do you remember what happened?” Vincent became worried for the first time since he saw the nurses and noisy machines. How bad was he? Would the doctor ask him whom he or the president was, or how old he was, or what day it is? He knew his name, couldn’t stand the President and was 45 years old, but damn if he knew what day it was.
“Nurse, remove Mr. Donati’s restraints. He’s no longer a threat to himself. But keep them on the bedpost, just in case”.
“What did I do?” Vincent tried to get out of a dry raw throat, but settled on a low whisper, “What happened to me?” Dr. Chadmen smiled at Vincent, placing a hand on his shoulder and looked directly into his eyes. “Your name is Vincent. I’m sure you know that. May I call you Vincent?” The doctor asked but didn’t wait for a reply. “You are suffering from a deadly foodborne illness. A rare case of vibriosis, which you contracted by eating raw oysters. The resort staff found you unconscious and blue on the beach. They called an ambulance and we were able to give you antibiotics, but the damage had already begun. After battling convulsions, the reason we had you strapped down in the first place, you developed septicemia. A rather aggressive infection, it has damaged your liver and kidneys. At best, you will be facing a lifetime of dialysis. At worst, we may have to amputate your arms and legs in an effort to stop the spread of the bacteria, if the antibiotics stop working. How long you live after that we do not know yet. Is there anyone you wish us to notify?”
Vincent looked at the doctor. A man younger than him, tall with jet black hair and brown eyes. He read the doctor’s ID badge. Dr. Chadmen, Young Hearts Children’s Hospital. “My wife. I need to talk to my wife.” Vincent said. His eyes, filled with tears that had not overflowed down his face. “My cell phone, please. Get my phone.” His heart rate increased to the sound of the beeping monitor.
“Try to calm yourself Vincent. I will have the personal items that came with your transfer here from Saint Ann’s Emergency brought to you. In the meantime, we can give you a phone to call her.”
‘This can’t be happening,’ his mind told him. ‘Eating raw oysters made me this sick? This can’t be. And why was I transferred to a damn kid’s hospital?’ These questions and the thought of being an armless and legless man on dialysis made Vincent want to vomit. A clear slimy fluid expelled from his mouth, reflex turned his head away from the bed. His gelatin spittle hit the floor and on one pant leg of the doctor’s scrubs. “I’m sorry Doc,” Vincent said, his eyes finally releasing the tear dam that was destined to overflow.
“Not a problem,” the doctor responded in a calm tone that sounded rehearsed. Wiping his scrubs down with a towel, he said: “I’ll get that phone I mentioned to you, so you can call your wife.” Nausea passed just as fast as it came. Vincent wanted to tell the doctor he was sorry for puking on him, to tell him he was sorry for wanting to call him Doogie Howser. The day was overwhelming. He could not bear the doctor or nurses judging him on top of all his bad luck.
“I’ll wait for my personal items to be brought to me.” Vincent managed to say in a voice that was getting stronger. A raised eyebrow from the doctor and a perplexed look from one of the nurses gave him the courage to continue to mask his embarrassment. “It seems I have moved around quite a bit since I was on the beach. I had some expensive valuables on me. I want my stuff back Doogie Howser if you haven’t stolen them.” The accusing words flowed from Vincent’s mouth much easier than just telling the truth. He didn’t know what his wife’s phone number was. He didn’t think the phone they would bring him would have his wife’s picture on it and a speed dial number. “Damn cell phones,” he said under his breath.
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Copyright © 2018 Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved.
A/N: My original idea for this story was a man hospitalized, with days to live. He notices a hospice worker with a therapy golden lab retriever curing the sick children he comes into contact with. The man manages to get healed himself but finds the hospice worker trying to remove the cure from him, stating ‘It’s just for children.’ This story is still in the early stages. It can go in any direction. Suggestions are welcomed.