Vincent saw it as a good sign that he was moved from the ICU unit to a patient room. He overheard chatty nurses outside his door blabbing that he was recovering well. This was news Dr. Chadman hadn’t yet discussed with him but he figured it was on the agenda for their next meeting. ‘I should get the names of those nosey nurses,’ he decided.
“I’ll give them something to chat about when I file a HIPPA complaint.”
Hospital security returned his personal items from the emergency room in a plastic bag with his name written on it. He opened the black ring case. The ring was still inside. Checking his wallet, he had all his credit cards and 322.00 dollars. His cell phone, the last thing he looked for, was at the bottom of the bag under his clothes. Breathing out a sigh, he closed his eyes and grinned. “I really should apologize to the hospital staff for unjustly accusing them of stealing my things,” he smirked. “Or maybe not. This way they will stay on their toes,” he reasoned.
Turning on the phone he noticed he had 75 percent battery power. ‘Someone must have turned off my phone to save the battery,’ he considered.
“Got to give the hospital 4 stars for that.” He wanted to press the speed dial number for his wife but hesitated. Before calling her he decided he’d better get his story straight. ‘Valerie could see right him at times,’ he thought. The display on his phone showed Monday, February 17th 10:05am on a large red font that also showed the current temperature. This jogged the memory of Dr. Chadman asking him questions to test his neurological responses. “The dope never told me the date, or how long I was in ICU. “I take back the stars for your hospital Doogie,” Vincent spat out the made-up name bitterly.
While holding the phone, his mind flashed back to last Friday evening, Valentine’s day. Valerie never showed up so he drank and ate the oysters on the beach. The time he ate the first oyster to the last one was several hours. Vincent sat up, eyes wide.
‘I had booze too. Security didn’t put that in the bag. That bottle of La Grande Dame Rose was expensive. Somebody’s going to compensate me,’ he thought.
“I must have been found on the beach sometime Saturday morning and taken to Saint Ann’s Emergency. Then for some reason transferred to Young Hearts Children’s Hospital, with Doogie Howser.
“That brings me to today, four days later. I’ve been sick for four days,” he said while looking around at the blue colored walls in his room. Disney characters from Aladdin, Snow White, and the Little Mermaid were painted on each wall.
“Vince? Vinnie?” a voice came from Vincent’s phone. “Vincent? What’s going on? Did you say you were sick?” Valerie’s words were short, stern, right to the point. Vincent recognized it from the tone she used with their daughter. Startled at first, then defenses sprang up, but he decided to put his guard down and spin his tale.
Putting the phone to his ear he said “I must have hit the speed dial number for you by mistake. I wanted to get up the courage before telling you-” The words stuck in his mouth. The only way to keep from crying was to stop talking, so he stopped.
“What kind of a con you playing Vinnie?” her words still short, but changed the tone. “Are you drunk? You were supposed to take our daughter to the movies on Sunday.” After chastening him she heard him sniffling in the background. Vincent cried in front of his wife on 3 occasions in the fifteen years they were married. The first time, at their wedding, the next, when Vincent’s mother died of cancer, and the last time, when she gave him his wedding ring back. The sound of him trying to hold back tears was so rare, she knew he was crying.
“What happened Vinnie?” Her tone was stern, questioning.
“I’m so sorry Valerie.” He sobbed. I, I, ate oysters at our spot on the beach. I guess I ate a bad one. I’m in the hospital. They say I may be on dialysis the rest of my life if I live.” Forcing himself to continue he said “I wanted to give you your ring back. I made it really nice. I thought it would be special on Valentine’s day. They told me they may have to cut off my arms. How can I give you the ring if-”
“I understand Vincent.” She cut him off in mid-sentence. “I’m coming down to see you. Are you still in Florida?” she asked, gathering all the information needed to take the next flight out to his location. “OK, I’m going to pick up our daughter and take the next flight out. Your doctor’s name is Chadman? OK. I’ll get there as soon as I can.” After ending the call with Vincent, she Googled Young Hearts Children’s Hospital to verify the location and phone number he provided. Valerie called and asked for Dr. Chapman, who was in surgery. She asked that the doctor return the call from Mrs. Donati as soon as possible to provide an update on her husband’s status before she made the trip out to see him.
“I hope she believes me this time,” Vincent said under his breath. He turned off the phone to save power realizing he didn’t have a charger. Feeling better he reached into his personal bag, taking out the ring case. After admiring the new diamonds he had fitted on the old ring, he put it back in the bag.
‘It’s time to have a chat with my doctor before Valerie comes to the hospital with our daughter,’he thought, trying to get comfortable lying on the stiff hospital bed.
Copyright © 2018 Darnell Cureton. All Rights Reserved.